Bathroom Bills and Your Right to Wee, According to Your Gender Identity(ee)

Bathroom bills are on the march across the United States.  Most of the states pursuing these “bathroom bills” are based in the South or Midwest of the country.  However, they may not be exclusive to these areas.  Either way, it is very disconcerting.

The gist of the “bathroom bills” is a ploy to allow discrimination against LGBTIQ based upon an exercise of “religious freedom”, “privacy issues”, and imaginary “safety issues”.  Most are sponsored by organizations that are virulently intolerant of anyone who is perceived as “not straight.”  Religion might be in their name, but it is historical patriarchal mechanisms which they are really supporting.  Thus, it is a structure that cannot tolerate any threat to loss of power or influence at it’s core.  This structure must constantly renew itself through immersion of people (aka students) into its values.  One way to do that is to engender fear and suspicion in the community (aka school) of anyone who is different.

This brings us to the issue of lawsuits and bathroom use for transfolk who are school-aged students, especially for middle and high school.  It brings up issues of support, rights, and safety, not only for the trans student, but for all students of every stripe, color, creed, race, gender, and orientation by restricting a student due to a trait or feature about said student(s).  Hence, it can be the beginning of a long and winding road of discrimination of class(es) of people.

One particular lawsuit in Virginia is winding its way to a possible Supreme Court showdown.  It is one in which there is a strong likelihood that the suit will be returned to the states due to the new Trump administration and their penchant for “traditional values”.

I don’t want to be a wet-noodle or a Debby Downer, but the efforts to secure a right to use the bathroom matching one’s gender identity is about to go on pause for a while in some states, and that would likely include Virginia.

I’m an old transwoman of over 20 years. I also counsel as an MFT those who are closeted or keeping secrets, or in an inquiry into their identity. These are not easy things to address.

Suing in federal court to identify a “right” to not be discriminated due to gender identity has moved forward by linking such suits to Title IX clauses prohibiting sex discrimination.  This linkage is thanks to the Obama administration creating rules with executive orders which altered the interpretation of sex to include gender identity.  A very logical and appropriate development, in my view.   But, forgive the pun, this area of law is still quite fluid. 

However, with this new Trump administration I believe it is extremely likely that these rules will be removed. In that case, pursuing nondiscrimination based upon gender identity does not necessarily have federal backing. And that means these battles against discrimination will return to the state level.

A law professor of mine once said, regarding suing for discrimination, that if you file suit, you better win. Because if you don’t win, you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but the entire class of people just like you.

Tread carefully. Work with the school districts to avoid going to court unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider accepting a compromise that does not demean, shame, or invoke suffering, especially if the motive of the school district is really about doing their best to protect and respect the trans student, as well as deal with other parents who act out of fears, not facts. Most of all stay safe.

Or as my father used to tell me, “It might be YOUR right. But don’t be DEAD right.” Good advice.

20 years ago when I came out, facing myself, and facing others, I made compromises in order to survive. There were no laws protecting Transfolk from any kind of discrimination.  In order to allay others’ fears. In order to keep my job. In order to have a place to live.  And in time people came around and wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t want any of us to go back in time. But I don’t want anyone hurt, injured or killed either.

Lastly, do not take this as surrender or appeasement.  One must pick their battles while also maintaining their ability to function in the greater society.  It is sometimes a long and slow trudging process.  Moving forward is often done in small steps, through being real and allowing people to know you, and you getting your message out there in how you live your life, and how you speak about your life.

Quote of the Day: Clothing Humanity

london251rz_pe2

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Gabe’s Care Map: Cristin Lind, Mom, Illustrates What It Takes To Raise One Boy With Special Needs [huffingtonpost.com]

mindmap

by Lisa Belkin / huffingtonpost.com

Cristin Lind couldn’t find the words, so she drew a picture.

The artistic inspiration hit about a year ago, after she’d been asked to speak to a meeting of primary care physicians, telling them what it took to manage the complex care of her special needs son. Her page was still empty, despite hours trying to collect her thoughts, so she found some colored markers and began drawing circles.

Inside a small purple circle, smack in the middle, she placed a G, for her son Gabe. “He’s not always the center of the universe,” she says with a smile. “But for these purposes he was.”

Around him, she drew another purple circle containing the rest of the family: Cristin, her husband Dan, and their daughter, Dagny. She built outward from there: the health care providers in blue — pediatrics, endocrine, cardiology, orthopedics; school-related specialists in red — everyone from the teacher to the bus driver to the special education director; turquoise for the world of advocacy and support groups; pink for recreation; lavender for those who do the assessments and testing; orange for those who help fight against the rules and for the money.

We each have scaffolding in our lives, usually unseen. We are surrounded by a web we don’t always know is there, but every so often — usually in crisis or its aftermath — makes itself visible. By the time Lind finished drawing, there were 70 labeled ovals on her page, which she calls “Gabe’s Care Map.”

She felt overwhelmed, yet empowered, just looking at it.

Click here to read the rest of the story…

Abstinence-only education does not lead to abstinent behavior, UGA researchers find [eurekalert.org]

States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined.

The researchers looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states’ approaches to sex education, as prescribed by local laws and policies.

“Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates,” said Kathrin Stanger-Hall, assistant professor of plant biology and biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Hall is first author on the resulting paper, which has been published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study is the first large-scale evidence that the type of sex education provided in public schools has a significant effect on teen pregnancy rates, Hall said.

“This clearly shows that prescribed abstinence-only education in public schools does not lead to abstinent behavior,” said David Hall, second author and assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College. “It may even contribute to the high teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries.”

Along with teen pregnancy rates and sex education methods, Hall and Stanger-Hall looked at the influence of socioeconomic status, education level, access to Medicaid waivers and ethnicity of each state’s teen population.

Even when accounting for these factors, which could potentially impact teen pregnancy rates, the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained: the more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rates.

“Because correlation does not imply causation, our analysis cannot demonstrate that emphasizing abstinence causes increased teen pregnancy. However, if abstinence education reduced teen pregnancy as proponents claim, the correlation would be in the opposite direction,” said Stanger-Hall.

The paper indicates that states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates were those that prescribed comprehensive sex and/or HIV education, covering abstinence alongside proper contraception and condom use. States whose laws stressed the teaching of abstinence until marriage were significantly less successful in preventing teen pregnancies.

These results come at an important time for legislators. A new evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative was signed into federal law in December 2009 and awarded $114 million for implementation. However, federal abstinence-only funding was renewed for 2010 and beyond by including $250 million of mandatory abstinence-only funding as part of an amendment to the Senate Finance Committee’s health-reform legislation.

With two types of federal funding programs available, legislators of individual states now have the opportunity to decide which type of sex education — and which funding option — to choose for their state and possibly reconsider their state’s sex education policies for public schools, while pursuing the ultimate goal of reducing teen pregnancy rates.

Stanger-Hall and Hall conducted this large-scale analysis to provide scientific evidence to inform this decision.

“Advocates for continued abstinence-only education need to ask themselves: If teens don’t learn about human reproduction, including safe sexual health practices to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as how to plan their reproductive adult life in school, then when should they learn it and from whom?” said Stanger-Hall.

Contact: Kathrin Stanger-Hall
lamyrids@gmail.com
706-542-1689
University of Georgia

###

The full article is available online at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0024658;jsessionid=7E5D4CFA54B7D9BD98BC2432D43AD046.

Activists respond to transphobic National Post advertisement [xtra.ca]

By Rob Selerno / Xtra.ca

Social media outlets lit up on Sept 29 after a transphobic ad from the Institute for Canadian Values ran in the National Post.

The ad revives the “StopCorruptingChildren.com” campaign that launched last year to protest proposed revisions to the physical and health education curriculum that would include more sex education for younger children.


Under a picture of a young girl, the ad asks “Please don’t confuse me. I’m a girl. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transexual [sic], transgendered, interesexed, or two spirited [sic].”

The ad calls on the leaders of the three major Ontario parties competing in the Oct 6 election to “stop teachers from confusing” the little girl, as she “face[s] enough in the world already.”

It then quotes extensively from a Toronto District School Board curriculum resource document called “Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism,” presenting these optional lessons as mandatory.

Hundreds of tweets about the ad went out under the #canqueer hashtag on Twitter in less than 24 hours.

The National Post’s manager of advertising sales Enzo Loschiavo says the newspaper has received many complaints about the ad and he’s not sure how it ended up in the newspaper.

“The Post wouldn’t generally run this,” Loschiavo says. “We’ll probably take a stance on not running it again.”

Loschiavo says the Post is investigating how the ad got booked and printed without being stopped but he wouldn’t specify what the Post’s advertizing standards entailed.

“We obviously don’t want to offend anyone, but we also understand that everyone has a freedom of speech,” he says.

Trans activist Chase Joynt was quick to respond to the ad by creating a spoof of it with his own face in place of the little girl’s.

“I thought it was manipulative to use the face of a small child,” he says. “Where the ad is doing the most damage is in not only presenting trans identities in any form as invalid and shameful, but also to rely on the education system to disseminate these lies.”

The Canadian Values campaign is particularly disappointing given that the province has yet to restart consultations or reintroduce its new curriculum as it had promised when it postponed the launch last year.

At the time, the Progressive Conservatives wanted the curriculum scrapped and the New Democrats wanted it implemented. The Liberals have said that they would revise and reintroduce the curriculum following wider parent consultations. Former education minister Kathleen Wynne has told Xtra she expects the curriculum to survive consultations unchanged.

Joynt says the curriculum is necessary to help kids understand their own identities and how queer people fit into the community.

“What’s crucial about any curriculum in regard to identity politics is that it’s providing a breadth of options and potentially the inclusion of LGBT rights in any curriculum at any level is that it affords another opinion,” he says. “ While I think there is opportunity to speak to things such as when is age appropriate, the ability to learn about those identities is integral to our success as educators.”

Charles McVety, whose Canada Christian College houses the Institute for Canadian Values, says he doesn’t believe the add is homophobic or transphobic.

“We’re upset that the Ministry of Education would force our children to learn things that we don’t agree with and secondly that they will not allow us to withdraw our children [from the lessons],” McVety says. “Eight year olds are very impressionable and to confuse an eight year old is egregious.”

He also says the new curriculum is not an appropriate way to deal with homophobic bullying or the rash of gay teen suicides.

“If you are going to deal with the issue of bullying, which I think needs to be dealt with, you deal with bullying. You don’t deal with other topics in the name of bullying. My daughter has red hair, she gets bullied because of her red hair,” McVety says. “There’s so many reasons why a child can be bullied, you don’t teach every little aspect. That appears to be the wedge to get this indoctrination into our classrooms and we’re upset about it and I don’t think it’s civil I don’t think it’s respectful.“

The ad is not currently running in any other newspaper or magazine, but is viewable on the campaign’s web site. McVety says he is “not sure right now” if he’ll try to place the ad elsewhere in the future.

Joynt has created a Facebook page to organize critics of the ad to coordinate a response. More than 150 people have joined.

He says his hope is to raise enough money through the group to buy a full-page response ad in the Post.

Queer Ontario has also urged its members online to file complaints with Advertising Standards Canada, the national advertising self-regulating body.

In an open letter to the National Post, Cliks lead singer Lucas Silveira writes that he is asking the Ontario Human Rights Commission to pursue a hate propaganda investigation against the Post and the Institute for Canadian Values over the ad. Current interpretations of Canadian human rights legislation tends to exclude consideration of advertisements in the media, according to Silveira’s lawyer.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Activists_respond_to_transphobic_National_Post_ad-10837.aspx