SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The cultural debate over “transgender rights” in public schools has moved to California, where a legislative committee passed a bill April 17 that would outlaw sex-segregated bathrooms and athletic teams.
Under the bill – which passed the Assembly Education Committee by a vote of 5-2 – a student will be “permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions,” consistent with “his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
This means that boys who say they identify as girls can use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa. It also means that girls who want to play on boys’ teams, and boys who want to play on girls’ teams, will be allowed to do so. The key will be their “gender identity” – what sex they identify as – and not their birth certificate.
The gender identity and transgender debate may be new to many Americans, but it’s likely heading to the heartland. In February, the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a “transgender rights” directive, accomplishing everything the California bill does. “In all cases,” the Massachusetts directive says, “the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”
Traditional groups say the transgender movement within public schools defies common sense and privacy. The California bill is AB 1266. It’s been dubbed the “bathroom bill.”
“Forcing boys and girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms and sleeping arrangements is not equality; it is insanity,” Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a traditional legal group, said in a statement. PJI has launched a website, genderinsanity.com, with information about this bill and another related one.
“Picture this … your 7 year-old daughter comes home from school in tears,” the website states. “You ask her what’s wrong and she says she’s afraid to go to the bathroom at school because a boy comes in while she’s there. Outraged, you call the school to demand an explanation. You’re told that your daughter is telling the truth, but because the boy says he wants to be a girl, their hands are tied. ‘It’s the law.’”
Equality California, a prominent gay activist group, said the bill would “ensure that transgender students have the opportunity to succeed in school and participate in classes, sports and other activities based on who they are – just like all other students.”
The Capitol Resource Institute, a traditional group, warned that under the bill, a “boy would be free to come and go in girls’ locker rooms,” thus “violating the privacy of thousands of students.”
“The intent of this bill is not to help our children get a better education – it is to integrate and encourage alternative sexual lifestyles by utilizing the school system,” the Capitol Resource Institute said in a statement. “There is no protection for students that object to sharing bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms with students of the opposite sex. Such students could be subject to discrimination claims and punishment under anti-bullying laws. Male and female students should be able to get an education and develop healthy heterosexual relationships in a stable environment. The state should not allow mixed sexes into locker rooms and bathrooms based on a few students that claim to be a different gender than their gender at birth.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)