Recently, California passed a new law that clarified existing law – it didn’t actually do anything new, but it made the interpretation of the existing law a lot clearer.
This law, AB1266, is short and easy to understand. This is an advantage over the other non-discrimination law that doesn’t directly answer questions such as, “Do schools have to recognize the gender of a trans student?” Instead, the other law simply says they can’t discriminate against a trans person, but doesn’t explicitly say lack of gender recognition is a form of discrimination.
AB1266 added to existing language in California that requires schools to treat the sexes equally (the existing language required schools to do things such as providing career counseling that included occupations outside of gender stereotypes. The new, trans-specific language is very short:
A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
And that’s where the issue is. It makes it clear that a trans girl could play girl’s basketball and use the girl’s locker room. And you don’t mess with two things in America: you don’t mess with sports or nudity. It’s our God-given right to have as many lethal firearms as we want, to have easy access to alcohol, to allow people to die of treatable illness if they can’t afford good medical care, and to invoke the name of God in school even if it offends some students (note however that this only applies to the Christian God – don’t try to invoke the a deity from another religion!). But, if a teenage girl finds out a penis exists…well, then it’s all over.
Of course I’ve written before about the need for privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms – and how it’s only a minority of people that the right wing cares about protecting in bathrooms. If adults want safe places for our children to pee and shower, they can start by getting rid of non-private facilities. Seriously. That would be legislation worth having. Too many people are abused in the current facilities. Including trans people, but not only trans people. If you want your kid safe from having to see a penis, give them both a private place to do their thing!
The various groups behind this also used the same tactics. Like conjuring out of thin air not one lie, but two – they found two instances of girls being harassed by trans students in the bathroom. Yes, both were lies.
The first one was a girl from Colorado. Here’s a report, including audio conversation with the school, that shows one of the other organizations behind this initiative, the Pacific Justice Institute (a right-wing Christian political group) made up the accusations about harassment. The falsely accused girl? She’s on suicide watch. If this doesn’t demonstrate the need to protect the rights of trans students, I don’t know what does.
The second lie was about a girl from California. This was by a Calvary Chapel of Temecula ministry – Salt and Light Ministry. Again, the story was about a trans girl that was harassing students in the bathroom. Just one problem: it wasn’t true either.
Now, I don’t think there is actually a commandment against trans people (maybe someone can find that for me). But the 10 I learned did talk about bearing false witness. It also stirs up hate and violent sentiment towards trans students.
Back to present time, however. There are several groups that want to repeal AB1266, and they’ve been collecting signatures to put it on the ballot. It looks like they’ve met that goal – they claim over 600,000 signatures, when just over 500,000 are needed. Now, it’s certainly possible that 20% or more of the signatures won’t be valid, but I’m not holding my breath. I hope they are. As I see it, that’s about our only chance, because the possibility of educating people about trans people is just not realistic for 2014. And an initiative like this, funded well by the right wing, would do damage not only erasing the law, but worse in stirring up hatred and violence. And there’s a solution that meets everyone’s needs: private facilities. Yes, it would cost money. Aren’t our kids worth that?
If the signatures are valid – and, again, I pray to God there aren’t enough – then this will go to the voters. And we’ll see who the true allies are among the LGB community. Sadly, I think some will stand on the sidelines while their T brothers and sisters are thrown to the wolves. And discomfort around trans people (the “ick” factor) will win over logic and identity.