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Transgender Bathroom Laws

June 16, 2016

I have been interested in the debate going on about whether public restrooms should be “gender neutral.” Should men who identify as women be allowed to use restrooms assigned to women? Should children who identify as the opposite gender have the option of which locker room and bathrooms they use at school? The federal court says “yes,” but many states say it should be up to them.

The governor of North Carolina has passed a law that restricts individuals to using the restroom assigned to the gender on their birth certificates. The federal courts have sent that state notice that their law is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Further, the courts have said that states that enact laws such as this are at risk of losing federal funding for schools. Texas says the government can keep their “twenty pieces of silver.” I feel schools and students will be affected by this loss more than the states and politicians. Therefore, I ask both sides, “Is the fight worth the cost to the students?”

On one side of the argument activists say that laws such as the one in North Carolina are similar to the segregation between blacks and whites that existed before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time, blacks were forced to live on certain sides of town, enroll their children in certain schools, and stay away from any place with a sign that said, “WHITES ONLY.” Activists say North Carolina’s law is an attack against the “LGBTQ” community, and a smoke screen for discrimination, while the law passed by the government is about giving people the right to comfort while they do something private.

The counter argument is presented in this way. Transgenders aren’t being segregated, only asked to use the bathroom assigned to their birth gender. They are not being asked to go to separate schools, use separate bathrooms, use separate water fountains, eat at separate diners, or ride at the back of the bus. The question is asked whether a woman can be comfortable sharing a bathroom with a transgender male, who may identify as a woman but is still equipped with a functioning male anatomy. Also, is it a good idea to allow transgender boys to use the girl’s bathroom at school, the girl’s locker room after recreation?

I personally think this is far too complex an issue for the federal government to force these laws onto states, nor should it be left up the governor of a state. Turn the issue over to the voters—let them be the ones to decide.

So far, all I’ve heard are the words of politicians, and I’d like to hear some of the different opinions of this diverse society. I’d like to hear from the student, the parent, anyone who is in agreement or disagreement with one of these laws. Your voice matters.

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