SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown made history Monday when he signed into law a bill that allows transgender students in California’s public schools to choose which restrooms and locker rooms they feel more comfortable using.
The new law – which is the first of its kind in the U.S. – also allows students to decide whether to participate in boys’ or girls’ sports, FoxNews.com reports.
Supporters say the law is needed to curtail bullying and discrimination of transgender students and to create a uniform standard for school districts across the state, reports CBSNews.com.
“This is about the safety of our trans students,” Ben Hudson of Gender Health Center told CBS. “These students are often in fear of their own safety and their own protection. They’re concerned about being bullied in school.”
Critics say the new law represents “San Francisco values” and is unnecessary, since state law already bars “schools from discriminating against students based on their gender identity,” according to CBSNews.com.
They also warn it will cause as many problems as it solves.
“This radical bill warps the gender expectations of children by forcing all California public schools to permit biological boys in girls’ restrooms, showers, clubs and on girls’ sports teams and biological girls in boys’ restrooms, showers, clubs and sports teams,” Randy Thomasson of savecalifornia.com told FoxNews.com. “This is insanity.”
All decent people can agree that children should not be bullied and mistreated – for any reason. Life is challenging enough without mockery and ridicule from peers. While it’s impossible to stop bullying everywhere, stopping it in our schools should certainly be a priority.
However, this one-size-fits-all approach handed down by Gov. Brown might not be the best approach to solving the problem. It’s hard to see how boys will be treated with more respect when they use girls’ restrooms, and vice-versa.
Many students will be made uncomfortable by the presence of the opposite sex in restrooms and locker rooms and avoid them whenever possible.
Some California school districts – such as Los Angeles and San Francisco – are “progressive” places and already have these types of policies in place. But the law may face resistance in California’s more traditional communities.
It’s easy to imagine that families who adhere to traditional values won’t like the idea of mixed-gender locker rooms and restrooms, and some – perhaps many – families will respond by pulling their children from the local public school and enrolling them in private institutions.
This law could very easily lead to an exodus from the public school system, which would make conditions even worse for the Golden State’s many financially beleaguered school districts.
The law also has the potential to alienate Californians from each other and weaken communities, and that could have serious and long-lasting consequences for all.
It’s getting more and more difficult to find things that bind Americans together . Our political, social and cultural values are diverging at an alarming rate.
Instead of attempting to solve these cultural disputes through the force of law – which divides individuals into “winning” and “losing” sides – Americans would all be better served if we solved our many differences through reasoned debate and appeals to our fellow citizens’ sense of decency.
That approach might not always be successful, but it’s certainly preferable to, as the saying goes, using bazookas to kill mosquitos.
By Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org