when Michael Bloomberg tried to limit the size of soda to 16 oz cups in an effort to combat the national epidemic of obesity, he was reviled for his arrogant attempt to micro-manage people’s personal decisions regarding their appetites and health. Now the NY State Education Department has released new guidelines about how schools should treat transgender students. Among other questionable tactics is one that seems pregnant with the possibility of lawsuits over parental rights. Schools are advised to maintain student privacy about their gender identity at school - even to the point of withholding that information from parents if deemed necessary. So a school that needs parental consent on file in order to give Johnny an aspirin may decide not to tell his legal guardians who are totally responsible for his health and welfare that Johnny is registered as Janey, uses the girl’s bathroom and refers to himself as she.
It’s interesting to note that these guidelines were worked out with the participation of legal experts from the NY Civil Liberties Union, along with other advocacy groups. It’s incredible that this degree of confidence would be invested in a failing system where most students do not graduate in 4 years; many do not graduate at all; those who do are not reading or doing math at anything close to grade level and will need intense remediation to even get by in community college. These same teachers and administrators will supersede the role of the parent in decisions of enormous significance.
There are no exact statistics of how many transgender students are in NY schools but now that Caitlin Jenner has captured the minds and hearts of reality show addicts and the media, more are surfacing, undoubtedly dazzled by the attention she has received, along with her receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage from ESPN. The guidelines that have just been issued do not ask for any mental health diagnosis in order for a student to declare his new identity - self-reporting is all that is necessary. Can a student who claims to be female use the girl’s bathroom one year,, then switch back to the boy’s? How many switches is each student allowed? Are boys who are 6′2″ weighing 200 lbs supposed to play tennis against girls who weigh half that? At what age must schools begin accepting students’ own assessment of their gender? Should Tampax machines be installed in the boys’ bathroom for menstruating girls who self-define as boys?
NYState schools currently have huge academic, behavior and criminal problems within their walls - not to mention fiscal fiascos. Now they have expanded their potential for failure by opening a Pandora’s box of questions without proven answers. One can only hope that parents’ groups succeed in forestalling the implementation of a policy of secrecy regarding their own children - a precedent that is unwise, dangerous and just waiting for the first tragic suicide and whopping lawsuit.
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