Student group opposes blocking transgender rule

The question of which bathroom or school locker room transgender students should use remains open, and the president of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils says students should use the bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identity, even if it is different from their biological sex, the Capital Gazette reports.

Unrelated: USDA Dep. Sec. Kathleen Merrigan visited Southern High School
in Anne Arundel County, Md., 2012. (USDA / Flickr CC)

The US Education and Justice departments issued joint guidance a few months back, which said that under Title IX, schools should allow unrestricted access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity. Then the US Supreme Court stayed an appellate court order to enforce the guidance and a federal judge in Texas most recently ordered, in what he said was a national directive, schools not to enforce the order.

The effect of the Supreme Court stay and the Texas judge’s ruling is that school districts are left to determine their own rules, as long as they don’t discriminate against anyone in violation of existing law or another court ruling. The Supreme Court may one day hear a case and settle this matter once and for all, at least as far as Title IX’s language is concerned. But schools also need to act under anti-discrimination law, regardless of how the Supreme Court interprets the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of “sex.”

The Anne Arundel County Public Schools was following the federal guidance until the County Council made a request on Tuesday, which followed a request from County Executive Steve Schuh, asking the school board to reconsider the guidelines. Opponents of the Obama administration’s guidance say unrestricted access may infringe on the rights of students who are uncomfortable sharing locker rooms, sleeping spaces on field trips, or even bathrooms with people of a different biological sex, regardless of the way that person self-identifies.

Scott Howarth, a senior at Arundel High School, serves as president of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils. Speaking for the association, he said this:

We are offended that anyone could ever think that the contents of a child’s underroos constitutes a situation of concern or an appropriate topic of political discussion.

We cannot imagine a scenario where anyone—parents, students, or nonessential staff—should be informed about the private body parts of a minor. It’s sick.

Growth is painful, but not as painful as being a child with incongruent anatomy, and certainly not as painful as being victimized because an adult, who you trusted, told the parents of your whole class how you are secretly different so they can avoid you.

We applaud the school system’s bravery in the face of controversy and willingness to do the right thing, even if a minority insists that it is not the popular thing.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.