Editorials

Misunderstanding permeates transgender restroom issues

By the Editorial Board

Beyond doubt, parents, grandparents, men and women who are not parents, want children to be safe. From that, it’s a tremendous leap of illogic to believe that transgender teenagers’ choice of school restrooms somehow puts other students at risk.

Indeed, a transgender male – that is, a person born female who now identifies as a male – likely would be more at risk in a “Boys Room” than others in the restroom. Likewise, a transgender female – born male but now identifying as a female – is hardly a predator in a “Girls Room.”

Quite obviously, much misunderstanding prevails in the transgender restroom issues disrupting significantly the state of North Carolina, proposed in South Carolina and most recently embroiling Horry County Schools. At a special meeting last week, the Board of Education approved supporting a Virginia school district’s appeal of a federal court panel’s decision effectively allowing a transgender male teenager to use the boys room. A lower court had decided the teen could not use the boys room because he was born female.

The BOE decision to join in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) effort in the Virginia case follows a situation at Socastee High School. A senior student had been suspended after using the boys facility when he was supposed to use an inconvenient restroom. A teacher had followed the student, which in itself suggests inappropriate action by the teacher, who evidently was aware of the student’s transgender background. He had been using boys rooms since middle school. Only after the threat of legal action by the Transgender Law Center did the district agree to reinstate the student and allow him to use the boys room.

That was the common-sense thing to do, and frankly should have been the approach before the legal action was mentioned. Now the board is responding to an online petition signed by more than 2,300 people demanding that students must use the “restroom consistent with their gender of birth, or the school provides a single occupant facility.” Such a demand suggests no regard for transgender students, particularly if they have undergone physiological changes.

What happened on Monday when the board was out of the meeting room in executive session illustrates a serious lack of understanding about transgenderism, not to mention lack of respect and civility. Some in the large crowd were singing and praying. Melanie Moore addressed the crowd and made an important point about transgender people not being pedophiles. She was shouted over by many in the crowd. It was an ugly scene, illustrating the connection between ignorance and hate.

What has happened to civility? What can be so upsetting about hearing another idea on transgenderism – any subject for that matter – for people to hatefully shout down the thought that differs from their own? Such behavior is unacceptable, on television talk shows, at political rallies, and especially in settings such as a board of education meeting.

The action of the BOE is disappointing, even if understandable. Putting together a brief probably won’t cost a tremendous sum of money, although no limit was set on the expense of hiring specialists and so forth. Whatever the ultimate cost, money spent to essentially fight equality – to foster discrimination – would be better used for public education about transgender people. Even as it pursues the friend of the court brief, the board should do that educating, beginning with board members.

Some answers are only in the wind

Yes, how many years can some people exist

Before they’re allowed to be free?

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head

Pretending he just doesn’t see?

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

Yes, how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry? . . .

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

– Bob Dylan | “Blowin’ In The Wind”

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