9:33 p.m. CST Feb. 21, 2017
In recent years, our society has made big changes in its attitudes, opinions, and laws of the land. From the legalization of gay marriage to the “bathroom bill” that has been passed in a number of states, we have witnessed vast improvements in the rights of LGBT members in everyday circumstances. In addition, we are seeing more and more LGBT individuals advocating for the equality of minorities in professional and educational settings. While several breakthroughs in societal equality have been made, there are still many that we have not experienced yet. This is where social activists, such as Johnny Jonte-Boucher, come into play.
Johnny Jonte-Boucher is a spouse, parent, friend, distinguished educator for the Dallas Independent School District. He is also the first reported gender non-conforming educator to run for a position on a Texas school board. Johnny is 29 years old, has lived in the Dallas area for the entirety of his life, and has resided in Grand Prarie for the last nine years. A graduate of both Harry Stone Montessori and Science and Engineering at Townview, Johnny has a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and is a certified Early Literacy Specialist.
Running opposed on the ballot of District 4 of the Grand Prairie ISD, against life-long Grand Prairie resident Aaron King, Johnny was recently asked why he made the decision to run for the position, and he had this to say, “As teachers, we see from a ground-level every day what is working on our campuses and what is not. After the appointment of DeVos as Secretary of Education, I have been dismayed at how common it is for people without any classroom experience to make critical decisions in education policy. I have received the Teacher of the Year Award from the chamber of commerce and achieved distinguished status. I’ve worked as a teacher leader in Irving, Grand Prairie, and Dallas, and now I want to support as many classrooms as possible to achieve success. As a scholar of education consulting, I can lend my experience to help the district further develop school innovation, especially in early childhood. I have also seen factors of inequality in our schools first-hand, and it is time to make schools the hub of support, unity, and involvement for the entire community.”
In addition to wanting to help build up Grand Prairie ISD and help support equality efforts in the public school system, Johnny is a strong advocate for LGBT rights in his community as a whole. Noted as the first legally gay couple to be married in the state of Texas, Johnny and his wife, a transgender female, have faced their fair share of public scrutiny. While searching for a judge or clerk that would approve their marriage certificate, the couple went to more than a dozen courts before becoming a married couple. Acknowledging his difficulties in obtaining equality, Johnny stated it as a driving force behind his activism and determination.
By running for a position that has not yet been sought after by a gender non-conforming individual, Johnny is following in the footsteps of Jenifer Rene Pool, a transgender female who initially put her political aspirations to the side when she began to transition in the early 90’s. In 2009, however, she decided that the time was right. Although she eventually lost the election, Jenifer paved the way for other transgender individuals to run for office in Texas. In 2016, Jess Herbst became the first elected transgender official in the state, as the mayor of Collin County.
With the school board election taking place on May 6, 2017, Johnny Jonte-Boucher is counting on fellow members and supporters of the LGBT community to help him in his quest to not only make Grand Prairie ISD the best that it can be but to continue promoting equality and positive social change for all.
Update: After this article was released Johnny Boucher contacted DFW MAG with the following message.
“I wanted to send you a correction on the article that went live. Ashley and I were *not* the first legally wed gay couple in Texas. There was some media speculation about that when we were married because of our transgender relationship, but we are legally “straight” and were married legally pre-Obergefell. We are legally opposite sex.”
Also, I do not think you have permissions to use the portrait of Ash and me from Medium by Rhys Harper photography? If you would another photo of me, I am attaching a recent headshot.