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As Long as We Remember...

June 2, 2017

A Policy That Isnít Needed

Cindy A. Rose

Frederick County Board of Education Policy 443 – “Creating Welcoming and Affirming Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming students.” This is a policy being debated in Frederick County Public Schools right now. Are you familiar with it? If you aren’t, you should be.


Reviews of school board meetings on the topic will reveal conversations like keeping information from parents, diminishing the spirit of Title IX sports, and not questioning anyone when going into a school bathroom or locker room.


In your view, is it the responsibility of the Board of Education to rewrite social convention? More to the point, are you okay with them rewriting a social convention without getting as much input from the public as they can?


Both Board President Brad Young and Vice-President Elizabeth Barrett don’t believe a vote should be put out to the public. They believe this is “their” decision to make, and theirs alone. They say they are soliciting e-mails, but their comments say this is already a done deal.


Brad Young: “I believe as is the case with all our policy discussions that FOFs were sent out that we were discussing this policy …. It has also been covered extensively in the newspaper, on the radio and on social media. It is not the intention to do a survey, but the public is welcome to send their comments.”


Elizabeth Barrett: “The rights of any group of FCPS children aren't up for a community "vote" or "survey."


I don’t know about you, but this topic is not like we are deciding to use gray vs blue paint in the halls. We are talking about societal propriety and convention and should be taken a bit more seriously with a huge helping of due diligence.


To paraphrase philosopher G. K. Chesterton: “If you don’t see the use of a thing, you better preserve it.” Step back. Do you know why sex segregated bathrooms exist?


For purposes of this K-12 education discussion, it’s mostly related to feminine concerns of hygiene, privacy and safety. In November 2006, Amnesty International released a paper: Six Steps to Stop Violence against Schoolgirls. Safe Schools – Every Girl's Right.


Citing Step 2: “Make schools safe for girls … Ensure that schools have sex-segregated toilets and washrooms, secure dormitories and supervised play areas.


So, the questions become: Are sex-segregated bathrooms no longer necessary for the concerns of hygiene, privacy and safety for girls? Will allowing boys transitioning to girls into the public bathrooms present a risk? (In defense of the boys, will they feel uncomfortable having a girl transitioning to a boy in the bathroom with them?)


Proposed language in FCPS Policy 443 says anyone (including adult males) can enter the girl’s bathroom “without question.” He can look like Larry the Cable Guy and no one can stop him because “without question.” If they do attempt to stop Larry, Larry can sue, wag an accusing finger and quote “without question.”


The policy has many flaws one of which is that it doesn’t stipulate that the male must be a student, it can be any male and the “without question” is beyond ridiculous.


Ms. Barrett thought it would be “offensive” to question any person going into the girl’s bathroom. Ninety-nine percent of the time the person entering is probably someone who innocently needs to use the bathroom. However, who is going to volunteer their child to be in there for that 1%? Ask for the FCPS statistics on bathroom incidents of sexual contact, smoking, drug use, etc. Shockingly, I don’t have them on hand, but they were brought up during policy discussions.


Transgendered students aren’t new to FCPS, they’ve been successfully accommodated for years. Why is there suddenly a need for a policy? There isn’t a need really, it’s a political issue looking for a springboard.


My educated guess is gay marriage is a settled issue and the progressive’s need another sacred cow to slaughter to rally the base for upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections.


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