Bathrooms, Bigotry, and Bluster

In an egregious display of ignorance, some elected officials are attacking vulnerable children for political gain. These always outraged leaders are fighting the Obama Administration’s directive to allow transgender students access to restroom facilities in public schools consistent with their gender identity. Their resistance to civil rights is contrary to constitutional values and is morally bankrupt. This fight isn’t about boys in girls’ bathrooms or girls in boys’ locker rooms. This debate is about safeguarding fundamental human rights and the dignity of transgender Georgians. Public schools must protect the safety of all children, especially the most vulnerable among them.

Some leaders are calling for a legal challenge to the directive– a fool’s errand. The law is clearly not on the side of these Georgia legislators fighting transgender rights. Georgia has been down this road before.  In 2005, Vandy Beth Glenn started working in the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel. In 2007, Glenn transitioned from male to female after being diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. Before transitioning, Glenn told her supervisor of her plan to transition from male to female. The head of the Glenn’s office summarily fired her. Glenn’s boss said he terminated her employment because “other women might object to Glenn’s restroom use.”

Glenn sued and alleged that the state violated the Equal Protection Clause because the General Assembly engaged in sex discrimination by gender stereotyping. In 2011, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the General Assembly’s actions constituted unlawful sex discrimination. The Court emphasized that the Constitution’s safeguards against sex discrimination include persons who are gender non-conforming. Georgia lost that battle. And now members of the General Assembly are pressing to litigate the issue again to score cheap points at the schoolhouse door.

If the Eleventh Circuit opinion wasn’t sufficient to convince legislators of the folly of their anti-civil rights attacks, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a transgender boy to challenge his school board’s policy that kept him from using the bathroom consistent with his gender identity. What of bathroom safety? The court, ruling earlier this year, rejected the argument that his “use of the boys’ restroom create[d] a safety issue.”

Contrary to the venomous misinformation local politicians are divulging to the public, there is no security or privacy threat to anyone by protecting transgender people. Judges aren’t the only ones rejecting the bogus safety rationale. Indeed, 250 advocates for sexual assault victims recently joined a statement to that effect. “As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society, we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false,” the statement read.

And now, not only are legislators pushing back against the rights of children, but parents are joining the fight in local school districts. In Fannin County, for example, parents are resisting any measure to protect the human dignity of a handful of children. The school’s resource officer, charged with the solemn responsibility of protecting the school, stoked much of this resistance— and has gone as far as calling LGBT children “perverts” in their presence at a public meeting.

A man entrusted with the police power of the state is unabashedly displaying his animus towards LGBT kids who are significantly more vulnerable to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, it should. Georgia’s politicians are quick to cry over so-called federal overreach but have shamefully little to say for kids suffering from bigotry and bullying.

While this rhetoric will harm children, let us not forget that teachers and staff must also endure these indignities. One gay Fannin County teacher told me he’s leaving the district at the end of the year because he doesn’t “feel welcomed or comfortable at all” and is particularly “frightened that the student resource office” is “openly discriminating” against LGBT people. This entire display is an abomination that undermines the integrity of our public schools.

There are no examples— none— of how protecting vulnerable children undermine the well-being of other children. Without any plausible objection remaining to allow transgender persons to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity, the only reason to oppose the Obama Administration’s action is the bare desire to harm children and the LGBT community. Opponents have been abundantly clear over the course of the last three years that they do not like LGBT Georgians and oppose any effort to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

Cloistered in gerrymandered districts, legislative leaders seem to take joy in resisting civil rights and tearing down Georgia’s reputation along with the rest of the South. It is a sad display of grandstanding that harms real people— that undermines the welfare of children. We must not go down the path of state-sanctioned discrimination like North Carolina. It is time for Georgia to acknowledge that people must be free to be who they are, whether they live in Columbus, work in Atlanta, or attend school in Blue Ridge.

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raconteuseWill DurantSaltycrackerNoway2016John Konop Recent comment authors
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LTWill
LTWill

North Carolina has lost hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars, and completely shredded their reputation for absolutely no reason. This battle of the Culture Wars should be over.

Robbie
Robbie

This battle has never been about “privacy.” The Religious Right thinks they can legislate LGBT people out of existence. They’ve been trying for decades.

Transgender people exist. They are real, they live in every state in the country and they have been around since the beginning of time.

Transgender people are not a threat to anyone. The same cannot be said for these legislators, though.

gsupantherfan1
gsupantherfan1

Who determines if a child is transgender? Do they need a doctor’s note or a signed form from their parent confirming they are transgender so that they can live their life as their “CHOSEN IDENTITY”? If not, immature boys will use the women’s restroom as a “joke” making girls uncomfortable. What age are kids being classified as transgender? How many transgender kids are in schools in Georgia? Is this even an issue in Georgia? Why not allow local school boards to decide how best to handle this issue? Are kids even mature enough to make this decision? What if a… Read more »

Robbie
Robbie

No one who’s transgender “chooses” their identity. They only choose whether or not to be open about it. Many of the most recent studies show that kids figure out their true gender (as opposed to what they were assigned at birth) between the ages of 3 – 5 years old. That’s not universal, but it’s not uncommon, either. Transgender kids show three significant markers about their gender: they are consistent, insistent, and persistent. They do not “try a new gender on” every day; they face far too many dangers in school (and in life) being who they are to take… Read more »

gsupantherfan1
gsupantherfan1

Thanks for the information, but the number I keep seeing is .3% of the population. I also haven’t heard of this being an issue in Georgia, so I see no need for the federal government to once again over reach on an issue. If this was an issue, we would be hearing about it. Respectfully, I disagree on the issue of it being a choice. You are choosing to identify as something that biologically you are not.

Robbie
Robbie

I understand that you think it’s “identifying as something that biologically you are not” but that’s not scientifically true. And I’m sure I don’t need to point out that just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. It could be that kids are just living their lives and their schools are accepting them so it’s not making news, or, they don’t feel it’s safe to come out so they’re forcing themselves to be someone they’re not for the sake of their personal safety. And it could just be that you’ve never paid attention to it… Read more »

gsupantherfan1
gsupantherfan1

Threatening to pull funding is what I have a problem with. Real kids are facing dangerous situations every single day regardless of what their gender identity is. All this being said, I’m not concerned with what gender or sexual orientation people using the stall or urinal next to me are. What bothers me is when people I don’t know try to start a conversation while we are using the facilities.

Robbie
Robbie

The Federal government has set standards for what it believes to be responsible education based on the best science available. If a district chooses to ignore those standards, why should the Feds continue to pay for it? We hold people to the highest realistic standard, not the lowest.

No one is forced to take Federal money for their schools. If they’re so insistent on ignoring Federal standards, they can raise the money on their own.

John Konop
John Konop

Very important to understand that the suicide rate is very high among gay teens from people spewing at them. This issue makes no sense, child predators are no more likely to be gay or straight as a ratio. Not getting what you are trying to protect? God loves all people, and would want to help gay teens not put a scarlet letter on them. I went to my 30 year high school reunion a while ago, and apologized to an openly gay classmate, for my group of friends never reaching out for friendship. The sad part is he told me,… Read more »

Robbie
Robbie

Also important is to know that gay and transgender are two very different things. Sexual orientation and gender are not the same thing.

PaigeTurner1017
PaigeTurner1017

I think it’s both dangerous and illogical to have the view – “I haven’t seen it” or “I haven’t heard of it here” – so therefore it’s not true and/or doesn’t matter. I’m sure some people may have never seen snow before. Does that make it not real? Does that mean we shouldn’t be concerned for others who have to deal with the impact of heavy snow on their commutes and homes? Intolerance is bred by this sort of ‘living in a bubble’ mentality. Also, let’s set aside the science that points strongly toward a biological basis for gender dysphoria.… Read more »

LTWill
LTWill

I do believe (but not 100% sure) that parents/doctors must confirm that the child is transgendered before a school must follow this directive.

Noway2016
Noway2016

“But, but, but, but…there is no evidence men will abuse the new rule,” sputter the rabid defenders. Sadly, these examples will continue… Thanks, Mr. President.
http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/05/17/shopper-upset-man-allowed-to-use-womens-dressing-room-in-ross

John Konop
John Konop

It could be done the opposite way as well? What are you solving? The priest scandal was about boys…..?

raconteuse
raconteuse

It seems to me that the real threat is straight cis men who will do anything to harass women. Transgender men are obviously not the issue.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Looks like most posters here don’t know the difference between gays, transsexuals, transgenders, perverts, pedophiles or people needing to pee. But there is certainly a georgiapol obsession with bathrooms.

Will Durant
Will Durant

The timing of the Obama administration’s directive puzzled me at first. The more I think about it however I can’t help but think it is simply election year rabbit hole bait for down ballot populist politicians.

gsupantherfan1
Will Durant
Will Durant

Doubtful. That may have been the excuse given but a 2-1 appeals court ruling allowing a case to be heard in a lower court is hardly precedent setting. I think the North Carolina legislature and some of their constituents making asses of themselves on the teevee was more likely. We have many, many more serious issues to face and should be in the debates by more serious candidates. If our choice between the lesser evil for President is going to boil down to which will eventually reside on the 8th vs. the 9th circle can we at least try to… Read more »

Noway2016
Noway2016

Yall think Trump has probs with women? Have him embrace NC’s stance on this and women will flood his campaign with votes in Nov! Party affiliation be damned!