Beachwood School Board Sets Example on Transgender Bathroom Controversy
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On June 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. LGBTQ people, who waited decades to have their rights affirmed, celebrated with parades in the streets and smiles on their faces.
Many conservative states have reacted negatively to this progressive decision.
One of these states was North Carolina, where on March 23, Governor Pat McCrory signed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, more commonly known as “the bathroom bill.” This bill–which requires anyone in the state of North Carolina, whether they identify with that gender or not, to go to the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate–caused many big names in the entertainment and corporate industries to pull their functions from the state.
On May 13, Obama’s departments of justice and education sought to clarify the issue by issuing a directive that public schools must allow children to use the bathrooms of the gender that they identify with as opposed to the one that is on their birth certificate. Schools not compliant with this directive could have their federal funding cut.
Then on May 25, 11 states filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that this directive could bring forth “seismic changes in the operations of the nation’s school districts.” The states also argued that the Obama administration had overstepped federal authority.
An additional 10 states, including Ohio, joined in on July 8th, claiming the Obama administration twisted Title IX to include rights for transgender people, as it originally just fought against sex discrimination.
More recently, on Aug. 22, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas was highly critical of Obama’s directive, according to The New York Times.
“In a 38-page ruling, which [O’Connor] said should apply nationwide,” the NYT wrote, “…the government had not complied with federal law when it issued ‘directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.’”
Ultimately, the final decision will be made by higher courts. O’Connor’s detrimental decision blocks the minuscule progress that the transgender community has made, kicking open the door to legalized discrimination, potentially leading to a future where bigotry quashes common decency.
Decisions such as O’Connor’s are just stubborn attempts to justify hate and legal discrimination in public spaces (such as schools). The obsessive focus on bathroom purity sadly echoes the concerns of Jim Crow segregationists who insisted on separate bathrooms for black and white.
There is no reason that any transgender person should be forced to use a restroom that does not coincide with their identity. Republican lawmakers fear that if directives like the Obama administration’s are followed then the United States could become a “sexless society”. Other opponents of the bill worry that sexual predators would enter bathrooms the bathrooms of their intended victims. According to the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, members of the LGBTQ community are no more likely to be sexual predators than heterosexual people.
Hasn’t the transgender community already been through enough?
Many transgender individuals face expulsion from their homes, shunning and hate from their communities. As a result, more than 50% of transgender youth have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
“The suicide rate among LGBTQ students is the highest among all other groups of students, and school should absolutely be a place where a student feels safe and protected.” wrote GSA adviser Casey Matthews in an email.
Transgender people are among the most persecuted minorities around the world, and discriminatory policies only add to the cruel obstacles they face every day.
Sadly, O’Connor’s decision is a reminder that transgender people will likely face discrimination until the stubborn forces of the past die away. Discriminatory laws will be passed, boycotts will be made in response, and the country will continue to be sent into a frenzy every time.
Our school board made the right decision in Jan. 2014 when it recognized transgender individuals as a protected class. By doing so, our district’s leaders signaled that hate has no place in modern society. Hopefully, the rest of the country will eventually follow suit, and we can all move on to more important matters.