Religious Conservative Member Of Ohio State Board Of Education Exposes Her Transphobia

official image of Sarah Fowler - member of the Ohio State Board of Education from District 7
Sarah Fowler – member of the Ohio State Board of Education from District 7

The Ohio State Board of Education, although not as bad as some state boards like in Kansas, has had it share of religious conservatives. Most of the time these people try to push a religious agenda into the public schools like creationism. A member from North East Ohio tried to get the board involved in the issue of transgendered people using public school bathrooms. It makes me wonder how someone who distrusts the government so much would want to work for it

A state school board member asked that a notice be sent to all Ohio school boards criticizing recent federal guidance requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

At the end of Tuesday’s state board meeting, Sarah Fowler asked the board to approve her resolution, requiring the Ohio Department of Education to send each local school board a copy of a May 27 letter from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to federal officials.

In that letter, DeWine calls the transgender policy from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice an “unlawful and ill-advised federal decree,” adding that discussion on the matter is “best left to the decent commonsense judgement of individuals and communities at the state and local level.”

Before any discussion occurred, state school board President Tom Gunlock of Centerville immediately said he would refer Fowler’s resolution to the board’s executive committee.

State school board member pushes transgender issue

Setting aside the obvious Jim Crow era defense DeWine uses in his letter – that state and local people know best when it comes to discrimination, who is this Sarah Fowler and why is she supporting Mike DeWine’s ill thought out letter against transgendered students?

Sarah Fowler is a home-schooled former egg farmer from rural Ashtabula County and has had no formal relationship with organized, publicly funded education.

She ran her own small business selling eggs for 12 years and working on her family’s farm. One of seven children, she continues to work for the family business doing graphic design, sales, marketing and bookkeeping.

Home-schooled graduates are unusual in Ohio’s education landscape. As children, they accounted for an estimated 2 percent of the student population. Christian home-schooling families, in particular, are fervent supporters of limited government, and through state and national organizations can gel into a strong force to aggressively resist government oversight.

Fowler reflected those beliefs in a recent interview.

“Well, we live in a society or a government structure where the Constitution limits the role of the government,” she said. “And where the Constitution limits the role of the government, family structure starts. And so in each of these jurisdictions — whether it be home school, private school, Christian school or public school — the role of the state ends where that of the family begins.”

Sarah Fowler: Home-schooled board member places Constitution and parents ahead of government

So she favors selective use of the Constitution as long as it supports her views. Also in that same interview she is quoted as saying:

However, among friendly organizations, she is more open. She was quoted by the Education Action Group Foundation that there are gay-rights agendas and Marxist agendas at work in the public schools, and she cited unions for that. She wants to assure “things are taught accurately and in the proper context. A lot of people are not aware of a lot of things that are being taught.”

From her campaign website we see some of her previous political history:

Sarah became interested in politics at the age of sixteen through the ‘Ohio Constitutional Marriage Amendment’. She developed ‘InfoQuest’, an e-news source designed to provide local friends and voters with concise, accurate candidate information and periodic updates on specific state and federal issues. Sarah also participated in several citizens’ initiative petition drives; including the ‘Ohio Sovereignty Amendment’, the ‘Ohio Personhood Amendment’ and the ‘Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment’ (which was approved by a two-thirds majority of Ohio voters in 2010). She served as the Ashtabula County co-coordinator during the Healthcare Freedom petition drive and subsequent campaign. Sarah was elected to the State Board of Education in November 2012 to fill an uncompleted term of two years. During her time on the board, she has opposed many bureaucratic policies, fulfilling her campaign promises to support parental direction of their children’s education and local control of Ohio’s public schools.

Sarah Fowler – Introduction

Fowler is a typical conservative stealth school board candidate. She refuses to speak about her actual views on issues in public and then votes those values after getting elected as we see in her attempt to have the DeWine complaint letter sent to all the public schools. She ran on the promise to fight for local control and against common core yet her anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-government views come to the top.

This is the standard conservative playbook:

During campaigns, these school board candidates gently speak of restoring the American way of patriotism and free market economics. Softening their tone, they don’t rile the opposition. Neither do they disturb a large, lethargic voting bloc that skips the ballot box.

This stealth strategy’s key component speaks primarily to the conservative base that votes as a bloc in high numbers. In the early 1990s, Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition, outlined how stealth wins school board elections. “We’re trying to generate as large a voter turnout as possible among our constituency,” divulged Reed, “by communicating with them in a way that does not attract the fire of our opponents.”

Vail Daily column: Right wing’s stealth take-over of school boards

After flying under the radar since being first elected in 2012 and reelected in 2014 for a four year term, we now know that Fowler is against the system of common public schools in general.

Ironically, Sarah’s grandparents were special education teachers in the Euclid City Schools.

The thing is parents already have the ability to direct their children’s education just like Sarah’s parents did when they homeschooled her. If parents choose to send their child to public school then they have to accept the learning process the school uses unless it is obvious that little Jane isn’t learning. Then they can try to help her with alternative methods.

Parental control isn’t a “god given right” and doesn’t mean forcing your religious or conspiracy theories off as curriculum.

I’m sure Sarah is a bright person who has worked hard to succeed but her world view is too narrow. She missed out expanding that world by being homeschooled and then not going to college.

Her views are tied too tightly to her religious beliefs and so she comes to some very wrong conclusions (like supporting DeWine’s view on the bathroom issue).

I just have a hard time understanding why someone who distrusts the government so much would want to work for it but then that is also part of the conservative playbook.

They break the system then claim it is broken and needs to be replaced with something that promotes their religious conservative views.

I hope the residents in District 7 find someone else who wants to see public education and all students succeed and who supports the teachers and administrators.


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