Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Since a number of people have reached out to me with this question after the PFLAG BOE Candidate Forum, I thought I should address it publicly here.

Question: Any further discussion of the bathroom issue from Mavourene Robinson?  That's the part I was most interested in/concerned about.

Answer: Yes. It was the first question. All candidates said that trans kids should be able to use the restrooms/locker rooms of their identified gender. But then several qualified their answers. Her qualifications were the most problematic to me.

Ms. Robinson essentially said that we are responsible to all children, so we have to make accommodations for children who are made uncomfortable by this, almost as though their views should influence policy equally with trans kids. I don’t agree.

Imagine if that were a school board argument against integration? What if white kids feel "uncomfortable" sharing a bathroom with black classmates, should we accommodate that?  Or eating lunch with them? Or sitting at a desk a black person used?

This is not a religious issue or a personal issue. It’s not even a sexual issue. It’s a civil rights issue. There will always be someone/a group of someones who are different. And they still have equal rights at school. And all of us should be defending those rights. 

There’s no honorable argument for policies that identify and treat some students as “other”. It doesn’t matter how carefully you say it, or how smoothly you couch your language. 

There’s a right answer and a wrong answer here: we can't put protection of civil rights to a majority vote. We must not demand special protections and accommodations for those who reject the rights of others or feel that the expression of those rights makes them uncomfortable. 

It’s important to note that two responses from other candidates were especially positive. They were “yes, and” answers. (This is not to criticise anyone who simply gave an unequivocal “yes”.)

Glascock: Yes. And we need to address this as we design and build future schools to come up with solutions that support this.  

Cutroneo: Yes. And we need to go into school communities and work with students to ensure that there will be a supportive environment for trans kids to make choices that are right for them.

I read a statement on Twitter this morning. You may feel it is too extreme to apply here. I don’t.

We can buy into the myth that our struggles are not interconnected but it will kill us. It is killing us. - - Ashley Yates @brownblaze

We absolutely must chose Board of Education members who “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” on civil rights. It’s not just about trans kids, or LGBTQIA kids. It’s Jewish kids. Muslim kids. It’s students of color, non-English speaking kids, kids with special needs/disabilities. Anyone who feels that a dominant group deserves special protections from accepting a minority group doesn’t belong on the board of a public school system, because that is not what public schools are all about.

Our struggles are interconnected.

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