By A.P. Dillon
In a previous article, the question of locker room and bathroom facilities being used by students self-identifying as “transgender” was raised. The question was largely left unanswered by both the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and the Wake County Board of Education.
In the meantime, Gov. Pat McCrory has stepped up and added North Carolina to an amicus brief challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s use of lawsuits against certain school districts to withhold Title IX funds for non-compliance with transgender student wishes.
Well, the transgender question has come yet again to Wake County schools.
Last week, according to WRAL, a petition was brought to the Wake Board of Education demanding a policy change that would allow transgender students to use facilities designated for the opposite sex.
What’s interesting is that, according to the WRAL article, the Wake board has already quietly made changes to district policies:
Director of Counseling at Wake County Schools Crystal Reardon said federal privacy laws do not allow her to discuss individual student cases. This past summer, the district strengthened existing policies “to include a prohibition of any kind of discrimination based on gender identity,” she said.
Reardon said that the district is taking [student C.J.] Lewis’ petition seriously and that school workers consider any student requests, but there is much more they also have to consider.
What this statement by Reardon implies is that since the district is already possibly receiving such requests, WCPSS is already permitting transgender students to use the facilities of their choice.
When I reached out to WCPSS for comment on the petition and the idea that these requests were being made and fulfilled, board Chairman Tom Benton responded with a single sentence, “There [have] been no board level discussions regarding this issue.”
I also asked the district’s communications department for comment. Lisa Luten, Director of Communications, said, “We do not keep district records of these requests.”
The board and Luten seem to contradict what Reardon has said. Are these request happening and being fulfilled, or not? Parents should be asking these questions both to local school boards and to individual school officials.
Meanwhile, the case I originally covered in Illinois has been settled. The U.S. Dept. of Education accepted the deal the school district first offered. That deal was to give the student in question separate facilities to use.
This high-profile case made national headlines when a group of girls attending the school banded together to issue a statement opposing transgender students being able to use the same facilities, including locker rooms and bathrooms.
The Daily Signal captured this turn of events in Illinois in a very detailed report. The Daily Signal included a powerful statement from the girls: “It is unfair to infringe upon the rights of others to accommodate one person.”
This statement strikes at the core of the issue: the U.S. Dept. of Education is trumpeting the rights and needs of a very few over the rights and needs of many.
One might even go a step further and say that the maneuvering by the U.S. Dept. of Education is an attempt to elevate self-identified gender reality over person’s biological gender.
Working in concert with this reality substitution is the labeling as “bully” anyone opposing these measures. Such steps are hallmarks of most self-proclaimed “social justice” campaigns.
WCPSS is no different and has made gender part of its policy rules (see policy 1710/4021/7230). As far back as 2014, WCPSS officials have made statements lumping transgender access with bullying.
This is almost too much to ask parents and students to digest. Parents have obvious concerns about their children being comfortable at school. Yet at the same time parents and students are being shamed because they are are uncomfortable with someone of the biological opposite sex using their locker room or bathroom
So what can be done? Developments in Virginia offer a plan. After a school district in Virginia was threatened in a similar manner by the U.S. Dept. of Education, state legislators drafted HB 633 earlier this year.
The bill defines anatomical sex, defines restroom use based on anatomical sex, and includes a penalty for failure to follow those constructs. The bill also covers schools, allowing for requests to be made for unisex accommodations:
“Local school boards shall develop and implement policies that require every school restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by a specific gender to solely be used by individuals whose anatomical sex matches such gender designation. Such policies may also provide that a student may, upon request, be granted access, to the extent reasonable, to a single stall restroom or shower, a unisex bathroom, or controlled individual use of a restroom, locker room, or shower.”
The language in the Virginia bill falls in line with that of WCPSS activities and policies. It will be interesting to see if the North Carolina General Assembly will take up the issue. Arguably they should, as these activities by the U.S. Dept. of Education constitute yet another huge overreach into state control of education.
Whatever your position on this issue, it clearly is not going away anytime soon.
A.P. Dillon writes on education issues for Civitas.