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Wheaton Park District Poobahs Stonewall Community

Smack dab in the heart of evangelical Christianity where Wheaton College, Crossway publishing company, Christianity Today, and College Church find their suburban Chicago homes, the Wheaton Park District Board of Commissioners are engaged in the kind of obfuscation and stonewalling that corrupt Democrats have turned into an art form. In June, community members heard that the two park district pools were allowing patrons to use locker rooms in accordance with their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex. For those whose first language is not Newspeak, “gender identity,” refers to one’s internal subjective desire to be the sex one is not and never can be. “Gender expression” or “presentation” is Newspeak for cross-dressing, cross-sex hormone-doping, and surgical mutilations that enable people to pass as the sex they are not and never can be.

In response to queries from community members, Director of Athletics and Facilities Daniel Novak responded, “At Wheaton Park District facilities, patrons may use the restroom/locker room that corresponds with their gender identity.”

Community members tethered to material and moral reality attended the June park board meeting en masse, and for two hours expressed their opposition to such a district practice or policy (formal or de facto). Every speaker without exception—young and old, male and female—expressed opposition to the sexual integration of private spaces and did so civilly. At that meeting, the board of commissioners and their attorney Phillip A. Leutkehans asserted that existing board policy that prohibits anyone over age 5 from using opposite-sex facilities has not been changed.

That appeared to settle the matter, but you know what Shakespeare says about appearances.

The very next day, employees at both park district pools told community members again that “patrons may use the restroom/locker room that corresponds with their gender identity.”

I left multiple voicemail messages for Michael J. Benard, Wheaton Park District Executive Director and Board Secretary, asking for clarification. He never returned my messages.

July’s board meeting rolled around and was poorly attended, perhaps due to family travel. One attendee offered this account of the meeting:

The Park District once again allowed the ambiguity in their policy and practice on [trans]genders in locker rooms to continue without clarification. Though a handful of people spoke up about the safety and women's private space issues, this time a contingent of somewhat unstable gender-confused individuals and parents who seemed to be suffering from Munchausen-by-Proxy Disorder or whatever it is called these days, spoke to praise the board for their ‘gender-affirming’ locker room policy and demonize normal people who spoke last month. In an ironic twist, this overwrought praise for a policy change that board members insist never happened, seemed to make the board members even more uncomfortable than last month. It appears to me that the board is going to let the ambiguity continue until something happens or sustained public pressure is applied to force them to act. I don't blame the busy people who spoke last month for not showing up this month, but it clearly gave the board the message that their ‘let it blow over’ strategy might work.

It's important to note that in addition to the leftist moms and cross-dressers who thanked the board for allowing patrons to use opposite-sex spaces, there were several attendees who spoke courageously in defense of sex-based private spaces. Community members who attended the June meeting were likely surprised by the words of appreciation for co-ed locker rooms and restrooms, since the board implied in June that co-ed locker rooms and restrooms were prohibited by longstanding policy.

On August 15, I emailed Mike Benard and the commissioners again asking, “Does the Wheaton Park District allow patrons to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their ‘gender identity’?” No response. So, on August 23, I called multiple park district offices. I posed my question to three different people. They told me only Benard could answer my question. I responded that he refuses to respond and that surely there must be many park district employees who know what the restroom/locker room usage policies and practices are. I was told again that only Benard could answer. So, I sent this email to the commissioners who, I am told, are the bosses of Benard:

Dear Commissioners, I thought I would give this the old college try again, excluding Mike Benard since as of this typing, he has refused to answer my email from a week ago. Would someone please answer this question: Does the park district permit patrons to use restrooms and locker rooms in all its facilities in accordance with their "gender identity" when that "gender identity" does not correspond to their biological sex? I called the park district today and was told that only Mike Benard can answer that question, which seems absurd. Scores of park district employees must know what the practice is. How does his refusal to answer a question that he and he alone can answer constitute transparency with and accountability to the public he serves? Further, you all were included in my email sent on August 15, 2023. Any one of you could have responded. I'm sure you know after the June meeting that many Wheaton area community members want to know what the policy is. They are entitled to clarity. I eagerly await your response.

I’m still waiting. Good thing my breath was bated instead of held. Many people move to the Wheaton area assuming that it is a conservative community informed by the values of area Christian institutions that have historically stood for truth. And many community members assume that Wheaton leaders value transparency and accountability. Mike Benard and park district commissioners are leading many community members to question their assumptions.

As one community member said at the July meeting,

It's my understanding that you have not voted to change your locker room policy, and … when administrative practices conflict with board policy, it creates chaos. Confusion reigns, accountability is diminished, and the path towards achieving an organization's objectives becomes obscured. Our community relies on you to uphold the standards and values that you've set forth. When we witness inconsistencies and conflicts, our faith in your ability to make sound decisions is altered. Trust is a delicate commodity, and it takes years to build but only moments to destroy.

Oh what a tangled web …

If you live in the Wheaton area, please attend the next park district board of commissioners meeting, and try to squeeze the truth out of Mike Benard, the commissioners, and their dour attorney. Let’s hope a huge contingent of Christian thought leaders—pastors, elders, Wheaton professors, Crossway and Christianity Today employees—show up to defend truth.

Sept. 20, 2023, 303 W. Wesley St., Wheaton, IL, 5:00 p.m.


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