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Local Leaders: Jay Irwin

Posted at 4:33 PM, Mar 21, 2017
Our community is full of people making a difference. 
 
Today we're shining the light on just one of them. It's a new series we're calling Local Leaders. Lindsey Theis introduces us to Jay Irwin, a first year member of the Ralston School Board.
 
Get to know your students and be passionate about inspiring future leaders. Work toward inclusion of all voices and all diversity. That's the advice new school board member Jay Irwin has for educators in Ralston School District. 
 
"I think a lot of people don't know how diverse the Ralston School District is. There is 30 plus languages spoken at home in the Ralston School District, which is amazing. We have some schools that have the majority of some schools are Latino. So I think people think suburban school district and that means a certain thing, but it doesn't."
 
Irwin was born a woman. Growing up in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, Irwin loved school and continued that journey all the way to his higher education. 
 
"One of the things that makes my journey different than a lot of the young people that I work with is that I didn't know that I was trans until I got into college. I didn't have any language for it for a long time."
 
In January the University of Nebraska at Omaha professor was sworn in as a Ralston School Board member. Irwin's the first openly transgender elected official in the state. Irwin didn't decide to transition to male until he was 22 years old. Then, he didn't tell anyone for three years. as a member of the school board, he says he wants to ensure that students don't have to feel like they need work to blend in at school.
 
"Hopeful that this means that a different perspective is brought to the conversation and that hopefully their experiences are a little bit better reflected. not that somebody who is not trans can't understand that perspective, but it's a different lens to look through."
 
There's that saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. For Jay Irwin, that change starts with him.