(Press of Atlantic City) Lily McBeth, a substitute teacher from Little Egg Harbor Township, became a national symbol of acceptance for transgender Americans in 2006 when the Eagleswood and Pinelands Regional school districts kept her on the job despite protests from some parents.
But McBeth said the number of teaching assignments she got from both school districts dwindled from 10 to 20 calls when she was William McBeth to just one or two calls per semester. McBeth sent a letter to Eagleswood Township officials stating that she will not return in the fall and she plans to send a similar notice to the Pinelands Regional School District.
“I’m trying to get out with grace and dignity,” McBeth, 74, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s just a shame the school district – they had an opportunity … to teach the students and the staff something about tolerance and diversity, and they look good for putting me back on the list. But what they did with me once I got on the list was hang me out to dry.”
McBeth added that she wants to keep her decision to leave “calm and peaceful.”
“I’m not interested in stirring up a hornet’s nest,” she said.
McBeth, who grew up in Atlantic City, had gender-reassignment surgery in 2005.
Detlef Kern, superintendent of Pinelands Regional, declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.
Eagleswood Township Superintendent Deborah Snyder told The Associated Press that the district wanted McBeth to return this fall and denied that bias was involved in her lack of assignments.
Snyder said the district hired a permanent substitute to report to work each day and fill in as needed. For other classroom vacancies, the district turns to its list of certified teachers. Only after that list is exhausted does the district call subs from the local hiring list that included McBeth.
“We wanted to see her back on our sub list,” Snyder said. “If she makes the decision not to return to our district, we wish her all the best in the future.”
McBeth, who retired from medical sales and marketing, said she enjoyed being around children and that teaching came naturally since she previously designed educational seminars for doctors and dentists. McBeth started working as a substitute teacher in Ocean County in 1999. She taught elementary school students in the Eagleswood Township School District and high school students in the Pinelands Regional School District. She also spent five years in the Little Egg Harbor Township School District.
In the future, McBeth plans to focus on other activities, which include clam and oyster farming, theater productions and nonfiction writing.