Wednesday, March 01, 2006


By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 28, 4:18 AM ET
EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - To students at Eagleswood Elementary School, she used to be Mr. McBeth. Now, after undergoing a sex change, 71-year-old Lily McBeth is ready to return to teaching as Miss McBeth.

Despite criticism from parents, the school board on Monday stood by its decision to allow McBeth to resume working as a substitute teacher.
After two hours of public debate and a private meeting with McBeth and her lawyer, the board took no action on calls by several parents to bar McBeth from returning to the school where she taught for five years before becoming a woman.
"It was magnificent," McBeth said afterward. "You saw democracy in action."
McBeth, a retired sales executive who was married for 33 years and had three children, underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and re-applied for her job under her new name.
McBeth on Monday told the school board and the crowd that she loves teaching and children, and looks forward to returning to the classroom.
"This is not something I got into just as a whim," she said.
Several parents said children in the school — which consists of kindergarten through sixth grade — were not old enough to understand the concept of changing one's gender.
"I, as a parent, am appalled to have this issue brought into my child's psychology," Steve Bond said.
Vincent Mustacchio predicted "chaos" at the school when the students learned of McBeth's surgery.
Young children will be confused by the conflicting appearance of McBeth, who has a deep voice and masculine features but otherwise looks like a woman, other parents said.
"I will not allow you to put my kids in a petri dish and hope it all turns out fine," said Mark Schnepp, who had taken out an ad in a local newspaper urging parents to turn out for the meeting.
Several people spoke in support of McBeth, including three transgender people, two former students of McBeth's and a handful of others, saying that the fact that she is a good teacher was more important than whether she appears as a man or a woman in class.
"There's really nothing to fear because a person is transgender," said Karina Mari, a mother of three school-age children who said she has transgender relatives.
School board attorney Paul Carr said McBeth was a good teacher who had received favorable reviews during her tenure as a substitute.
Earlier this month, the board voted 4-1 to accept her application to return to the classroom.
It's unclear how soon McBeth will resume teaching, Carr said. That depends on the need for substitutes and the availability of certified teachers who get priority when a spot opens up, he said.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights advocacy group supporting McBeth's bid to resume teaching, called the school board's action historic.

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