Richard Nelson Guest columnist
June 9, 2014
What do you say when a teenaged boy dressed like a girl insists upon using bathrooms of the opposite sex? Most would rather politely decline to comment, including yours truly. Yet the Atherton High School Site Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) codified their thoughts in the form of a nondiscrimination policy last month regarding the “use of school space that will include gender identity.” In other words, boys who identify as girls in this Louisville high school will be afforded the same protection and rights just as if they were actually female.
Pandora, meet your latest gift from Atherton High School.
The thinking behind the policy change was articulated by one of the speakers at a SBDM meeting in early May, “just because someone has a male body, doesn’t mean that person is male.” (Insert your own adjective of disbelief here). I’ll stick with “are you kidding me?”
Surprisingly, more people support transgender rights than one might guess. According to a May 11 Rasmussen Reports Survey, 46 percent of Americans favor a law that bans discrimination based on gender identity. However, the numbers change significantly when they realize that it affords self-identified transgendered individuals the legal right to use female restrooms and changing facilities. Just days after the report, Maryland became the second state to enact sweeping transgendered-rights legislation.
Earlier this year, seven female students at Louisville’s Atherton High School told their parents that a 14-year old boy who identifies as a girl was given permission to use the girl’s bathroom. Many other offended girls reportedly were afraid to speak out.
Michael Aldridge of the ACLU of Kentucky applauded the May 16 decision by the Atherton SBDM because it “helps these students know their rights are protected.” He obviously wasn’t talking about the rights of the young girls who might be intimidated or too embarrassed to use bathrooms and locker rooms knowing that a boy could walk in any time.
Atherton High School Board Member Carol Haddad jumped onto the gender-bender bandwagon when she declared her support to include gender identity as a protected right because the school board is against “any kind of harassment and discrimination.” Haddad hadn’t clearly thought this through.
Of course, nobody should be for harassment, but the policy change giving “rights” to transgender student will likely invite more harassment. As for discrimination, it is a practical necessity of life. Before I’m painted a bigot, the truth is that everyone discriminates. Every day. The married man who is faithful to his wife discriminates against other women. Employers who seek top-notch workers discriminate based upon ability and productivity. And yes, the Atherton School Board discriminates on the pay between first year teachers and 25 year veterans.
So why is Atherton failing to discriminate in order to preserve safety and order in the school? Probably for the same reason the Obama Administration is going to cover sex-reassignment surgery under Medicare. On May 30, the Department of Health and Human Services Board announced that public tax dollars can now be used to give the elderly sex changes which range from $10,000-$50,000. The notion of a person defining their own gender is troubling on a number of levels. It is even worse when taxpayers have to foot the bill.
Self-determined gender identity puts a person in the Creator’s place since He alone assigns gender. It subjectivizes a category (male/female) that objectively makes us human. And school policies protecting gender identity open Pandora’s Box even wider. How should the school treat the young boy who “in his mind is a girl” but doesn’t dress like one? Does he get to use the girl’s bathroom too? Should he be allowed to participate in girl’s athletics? Isn’t crossdressing a huge distraction in the classroom?
The irony in this debacle is that crossdressing is on track to becoming protected in our public schools because public school teachers cannot teach there is a Creator who assigns gender and gives us moral rules by which to live. Nor can public school teachers counsel the outcast and maligned who’ve identified with a gender other than what they were born at birth (it’s illegal in California and New Jersey). How is it that in our Brave New World some public schools tolerate and accommodate what has long been considered perversion and disorder while at the same time they are forbidden to tell about the Redeemer who transforms?
So long as schools (and our culture for that matter) remain hostile to the idea of absolute truth, moral boundaries will continue to be blurred and gender norms stretched like a rubber band. By the time the backlash is felt, many more will certainly be speaking out, but by then it may be too late.
Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. He resides in Cadiz with his wife and children