It’s true that our country has many issues and concerns to discuss among ourselves. These issues may yet shape the future. Some of these issues would be the upcoming presidential election, the economy, national security, Supreme Court, social security and healthcare.
However, the issue over transgender bathrooms in our public schools and other public places deserves some comment. The U.S. Department of Education recently sent schools an order to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of the gender with which “they identify.” The administration has also supported students suing schools that deviate from this policy.
Equal protection under the law is a hallmark of American law. After all, it was only in the last 40 to 50 years when public bathrooms, schools, buses, and restaurants were segregated by race.
In fact, I’ll never forget when my parents told me upon their arrival in 1965 in the United States, they had a dilemma immediately after getting off the airplane. My father said he was confused which public restroom to use at the airport. Could he use the “Whites Only” bathroom or “Colored Bathroom.”
He’s Asian and, therefore, not a Caucasian. However, his skin complexion was light. Thank goodness our country has moved legally, politically, and most importantly morally towards equal protection and treatment.
However, has the current administration gone a little too far? President Obama was recently interviewed at a PBC town hall in Indiana as to why he pushed for such a policy requiring transgender bathrooms in public schools.
During an interview, the President stated, “Look, I have profound respect for everybody’s religious beliefs on this, but if you’re in a public school the question is how do we just make sure that children are treated with kindness. That’s all.”
The President also said, “My reading of Scripture tells me that the Golden Rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief. … As President of the United States, those are the values that I think are important.”
Hmm…it is very interesting that the Golden Rule is used as a moral justification. What is the Golden Rule? It comes from what the Lord Jesus said in the New Testament, Matthew 7:14: “…So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law…”
There is no question that we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect. However, is it disrespectful to require someone to use the bathroom of their gender by birth? In other words, is it really less dignified for individuals to use a bathroom of their born biological gender?
The issue at one level centers on equal treatment. However, a deeper public safety issue comes up. This especially concerns those of us who have families and young children. The question is: How do we know that a child, teenager, adolescent, adult is actually sincere when using a public restroom for transgender reasons?
Just recently Maya Dillard Smith, director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, a leading civil rights group) resigned from the organization. She resigned due to this transgender bathroom policy being implemented in Georgia. Apparently, she brought her two daughters to a public restroom only to encounter three over six feet men (with deep voices) in the same bathroom who identified themselves as transgender.
The incident left her daughters “visibly frightened” and her very uncomfortable.
It is very important that we balance everyone’s rights. In this case, each person needs to be respected.
However, how should a parent’s right to protect their children be factored? This is not to say that all transgender persons are to be questioned.
Whether one agrees with their lifestyle choice or not, most are likely law-abiding citizens. What about the ones who just use this new policy as a way to gain access to little children in the restrooms? Currently, there are at least 11 states suing the federal government over transgender bathroom access due to public safety. When the current administration implemented this requirement in our public schools, it was done without much public discussion or debate. This take-it-or- leave-it approach to such a far-reaching policy merits further debate at dinner tables, offices, churches, civic associations and even with our neighbors.
As I said earlier, equal protection is a bedrock American principle. However, public safety, especially for the most vulnerable in our society such as the young school children, deserves that “equal protection” as well.