Madison school board candidate who made transphobic remarks drops out

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison school board candidate who described herself as “trans-a-phobic” last week has dropped out of the race.

Mary Jo Walters announced she would withdraw her campaign for Seat 3 in a Facebook post Friday.

“I am opting out of the run for many personal reasons,” Walters said. “I’d like to thank all that engaged in these discussions.”

She now plans to start a book club.

Walters drew criticism after posting transphobic comments on social media. In an interview Monday, she called herself gender critical.

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The former candidate for lieutenant governor wanted to reverse the district’s decision to implement gender-neutral bathrooms. She cited anti-transgender comments from Dave Chappelle and J.K. Rowling, in a prepared statement she read before the interview.

Walters had been running unopposed until Monday when her comments inspired Shepherd Janeway to enter the race.

Janeway is a trans, non-binary teaching artist affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Whoopensocker program since 2018.

“We, as a community, sent a clear message that we support all students,” they said in a statement Saturday. “We won’t support someone who openly plans to exclude and target marginalized students.”

The board seat that Walters and Janeway were running for will be vacated by Chris Carusi in the spring.