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New Gahanna-Jefferson BOE member believed to be first openly trans public office holder in Ohio

Dion Manley wants to be a voice for students and teachers while helping with other issues the district is facing.

GAHANNA, Ohio — It was a moment Dion Manley never knew he always wanted.

He wasn’t going to run for a seat on the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Board of Education. Not at first.

“I thought about it and I thought what it entailed and given what’s going on out in the world today I feel like now’s the time for regular folks to step up and I just couldn’t say no,” he said.

He couldn’t say no to giving back to his daughter Lila’s teachers who have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to her since kindergarten. She’s now a senior in high school.

So, he entered the race.

In November, along with Sue Horn and Kara Coates, Manley was voted in.

“The feeling of having an entire community behind me…I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

His stances are, no doubt, what helped to get him elected. He wants to be a voice for students and teachers. He wants to help with substitute teacher and bus driver shortages; the issues that many districts are currently facing.

Another issue, though, has nothing to do with the campaign, but everything to do with inclusion and diversity. Dion Manley is transgender.

“People here that know that I’m transgender…I’m a great dad and that’s what they see and that’s what matters to them,” he said.

He says he’s never hidden who he is. Those students he now represents he doesn’t want them to hide either.

“I’m meeting with students who can identify with me and they can’t believe that I’m going to be representing them,” Manley said.

It was a moment he never knew he always wanted. A moment for appreciation, respect and gratitude that he will now spend the next four years paying forward.

“The greatest joy of my life has been raising my daughter,” he said. “So, I want to be remembered as a great dad, community member and I happen to be trans.”

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