An adolescent high-school student with all the biological parts of a male and none of the biological parts of a female declares himself to be a girl, is called by his female name at school, is allowed to play on the girls’ athletic team and to change inside the girls’ locker room with the small proviso that this be done behind a curtain. This apparently is not sufficiently sensitive to the boy/girl’s needs - I can’t use a pronoun without knowing this person’s preference for that loaded word as pronouns are war zones at the moment. Despite the wholesale capitulation of the school to all the aforementioned demands of this student, the Office for Civil Rights of the Dept of Education has insisted that standing behind a curtain or showering separately is outright discrimination and a challenge to this student’s identity. Unless the Illinois school removes the curtain and allows total access to the girls’ facilities, it stands in danger of losing all of its Title IX funding.
Let’s take the example of students with disabilities such as confinement to a wheelchair. Schools (as well as all facilities open to the public) must provide wheelchair-accessible bathrooms but these are frequently separate rooms. To treat the disabled person in an equivalent manner to what is being demanded for transgenders would require making all bathroom stalls wheelchair-accessible so that one person doesn’t feel singled out from the group. Similarly, all elevators and entrances should conform to the needs of the minority in order to treat them with the exact same dignity that everyone else enjoys. In the case of the disabled, there is no additional factor of exposing the majority to the disturbing or at least disconcerting experience of seeing a nude male who is to be considered female simply by his self-definition.
Or, let’s consider students with special needs who go to classes where they are separated from their mainstream classmates. Isn’t this an example of marginalizing them and treating them differently from their classmates? What about students who are in English as a Second Language program - wouldn’t it be kinder to have all the students study a second language at the same time? In fact, wouldn’t it be nicer to eliminate all distinctions between students - no academic or athletic achievement awards, no grades, no team sports where some will get picked last, no prom queens - a denial of reality as in the artificial world the LGBT lawyers and lobbyists are insisting we create.
Educators talk about the importance of self-esteem but this is an example of the opposite. Rather than work with transgender students to give them confidence in their own minority identity, we are furthering the illusion that there are no differences between them and everyone else. Instead of helping them find the best way to adapt to the mainstream environment, we are insisting that the rest of their environment adapt to them. In the case of students, this is a poor approach for preparing them for the world beyond school. With this particular student who seems to have found the necessary grit to play on an all-girls team and the common sense to state that changing behind a curtain was not a problem (NYT 11/3) , the heavy arsenal of LGBT lobbyists and lawyers and the craven capitulation of the Dept of Education are examples of adult over-reach where it isn’t necessary. The transgender student had won all the big points of being acknowledged and accepted as female; it would have been good training for the future to let her navigate the smaller issues of how to reconcile that identity with the legitimate needs and concerns of everyone else in the world around her.
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