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Manhattan community board member ousted over bid to weigh ban on trans girls in school sports

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine is ousting a Midtown community board member for supporting a controversial effort to explore whether the city should ban trans girls from participating in public school sports, the Daily News has learned.

Levine’s office confirmed Tuesday that Craig Slutzkin is not being reappointed to Community Board 5, where he has been a borough president appointee for over a decade. During his tenure at CB5 — which covers a swath of Manhattan from Union Square to the bottom of Central Park — Slutzkin has served as the board’s second vice chair as well as its Parks and Public Spaces Committee chair.

The BP’s office declined to offer a reason for Slutzkin’s ouster, saying in an email that the BP “does not issue public statements regarding individual appointments due to the myriad factors that contribute to these decisions.”

But a source directly familiar with the matter told The News that a “major factor in the decision” to not reappoint Slutzkin was his role in adopting a resolution in March at Manhattan’s Community Education Council 2, where he serves as recording secretary.

“The borough president’s decision to not reappoint me is incomprehensible and may be interference driven by political reasons,” Slutzkin said.

He’d joined seven other CEC members in calling for a review committee on the current gender guidelines, which allow transgender girls to participate in school sports aligned with their gender identity. Three members voted against it.

The panel of female athletes, parents, coaches, medical professionals and biology experts would be authorized to propose changes to current policies “concerning the impact on female athletes,” it read.

The resolution catapulted the obscure education panel, which operates as an advisory entity for schools in a large section of Manhattan, into a national conversation about trans rights. LGBTQ advocates and a large chorus of local Democratic officials blasted the measure as bigoted and transphobic, while the city Education Department said it wouldn’t have any impact on school sports protocols, given that it’s non-binding.

During a Community Board 5 meeting on April 11, Levine made his opposition to the resolution clear.

“Know that I am too deeply, deeply disturbed by that action by the board, and I’ve been quite public and firm about that,” he said in that meeting, which Slutzkin attended.

“You can applaud for that if you happen to agree,” Levine added, as Slutzkin can be seen shaking his head in the video.

Slutzkin, who was first appointed to his board post in 2013 by then-Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, confirmed to The News he has been planning to run for chair of CB5, a bid that may be jeopardized by Levine’s decision to not reappoint him. His candidacy was part of an effort to challenge the board’s acting chair, who has angered some members over his day job as a registered lobbyist to increase housing development.

A letter from CB5’s nominating board, obtained by The News, called the decision not to reappoint Slutzkin “unprecedented and outrageous.”

Slutzkin said he was informed his removal may be related to the Community Education Council resolution he backed.

“The resolution calls for dialogue on the difficult topic of transgender children in sports,” he said. “I believe that it is incumbent on all of us to engage in difficult conversations with honesty and integrity … I harbor no bias of any kind, whether it is based on race, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

Allen Roskoff, a longtime LGBTQ activist, former teacher and Manhattan resident, applauded Levine for pushing Slutzkin out.

“You serve at the pleasure of the borough president and if you take a bigoted stand, it’s the obligation of the borough president to remove them,” said Roskoff, who leads the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. “I applaud the borough president. It’s important to not have bigots on the board and when they can remove a bigot from the board they absolutely should.”


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