I received an email today from the Minnesota Republican Party encouraging me to contact my legislator to encourage them to support the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act (HF 1546). Now, I’m used to being on the opposite side of the Minnesota Republican Party (MnGOP) on most things. However, I am not used to their logic being so just. . .nonsensical that it makes me head hurt and inspires me to write a blog post. Well, congrats MnGOP, today you did just that.
In the email, their reasons why this bill should pass are as follows:
“- Ensure that schools continue to provide bathrooms and locker rooms separated by biological sex.
– Ensure schools can meet individual student needs who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by providing access to a private, faculty, or other facility.
– Protect all students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights when in personal intimate settings.
– Protect the current status of girls’ athletics.
– Maintain local control by school boards, and policy oversight by the legislature, with regard to transgender accommodations.”
Now, to be fair, I’m not on the opposite side on all of these points.
Should we “Protect all students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights when in personal intimate settings.”
Absolutely, without a doubt.
And I’m totally in support of local schools districts taking a stand in this policy area, just like the St. Paul Public Schools did earlier this week. Good on you, St. Paul School Board, for being a leader on this issue.
However, let’s look at the points where I think MnGOP logic fails.
Based on their above points, it seems as if the MnGOP supporters of HF1546 are fine with LGB students sharing space with peers of the same gender, but not T students. Think about it. There are LGB kids that currently share locker rooms and bathrooms with peers that are of their same gender. Why doesn’t this warrant some sort of special policy? A law that makes it so any student that identifies as L, G, or B has to use the facilities of the opposite gender than they are attracted to. Oh, right that would be not cool. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, MnGOP, singling out the T kids isn’t cool either.
Also, each time a reference is made to “biological sex”, it ignores and contradicts the main issue it claims to be protecting – gender identity of students. By ignoring a youth’s gender indentity and forcing them into a situation is violating their basic physical safety and privacy rights in my opinion.
Let’s say there’s a young trans* student that uses binders to hide their growing chest to help them feel more like their true self, or a student who chooses to wear undergarments that contradict their “biological sex” having to change with classmates in a locker room.
Don’t you think that is a situation that is just asking for trouble and is very traumatic for the kid? I can only imagine the mean and hurtful things that would be said to this youth that is just trying to be true to who they are – where ever that may fall on the gender spectrum.
And if they ask for separate accommodations – that can lead to blowing any semblance of privacy out of the water. “Why do they get to use a special bathroom?” will undoubtedly be a topic for discussion. So a youth may just go to the restroom that corresponds with their “biological sex”, placing them in an uncomfortable situation anyways, to avoid odd looks or teasing. Again, this isn’t cool.
Also, who is going to police “biological sex”? Is a teacher or coach going to have to check each student to make sure they are in the “correct” bathroom? Is a female with short hair, a young male with long hair, or a student that wears clothes that aren’t gender specific going to be misgendered and directed to the wrong locker room just because they look a certain way? Actually the more I think about how this would even be implemented the more more the logic breaks down, and it gets more frustrating.
We have to do better.
Yes, MnGOP, the idea that there are people who do not fit into the neat gender boxes you expect them to be in may make you uncomfortable, but when you are outside of your comfort zone, that is when you truly learn and grow.
In all honesty, you probably have already shared a bathroom with a trans* individual and didn’t realize it. Did this negatively impact you and your life? I’m going to just guess that it didn’t if you didn’t even realize it is happening. Also, you probably use a unisex bathroom every day – unless you have gender specific bathrooms at your house, which while different, is your choice.
So this is my challenge to you, MnGOP:
Let’s create environments that help kids not be afraid to be true to who they are.
Let’s fully fund programs to help kids succeed and close the achievement gap.
Let’s make Minnesota a place where ALL kids feel safe and respected.