Last spring our provincial government passed legislation designed to protect LGBTQ kids in our schools. It wasn’t perfect legislation, but it was necessary and long overdue.
Not long after this party that had held the right to form government in Alberta, the Progressive Conservatives, lost an election in a surprise upset to the New Democrats, so it fell to the new government to make sure that this legislation was implemented.
The implementation process has – for the most part – been adopted by school districts with a minimum of fuss, but a few Catholic school boards, and a wildly trans-phobic parents’ group, have been kicking up a hysteria driven drama-fest by asserting that implementing perfectly reasonable human rights protections will lead to Sodom and Gomorrah in school washrooms and gym locker rooms all over the province.
Part of the fear driving the misinformation campaign that has stalled at least 3 school boards in the act of just doing their damn jobs, is the strange notion that trans kids “come out” in the same manner that gay kids do.
I will cop to having not been terribly knowledgeable on the subject myself previously, but a bit of research and some serious paying attention fixed that up quick.
Basically, it gets down the confusion (sometimes I think it’s deliberate of some people’s part) of gender and sexuality.
It’s 2016. We should all know that our gender is not determined necessarily by our DNA and that our sexuality is not determined by our biology – strictly speaking.
Trans kids understanding of their gender occurs the same way it does with cis kids, and they, quite naturally, would like their gender identity acknowledged in the least hysterical manner possible, so adults should be working diligently to make sure that this happens all the time. Not just when it’s easy to do or when everyone’s archaic points of view on the subject line up with the idea that everyone has basic rights all the time.
And one of those rights is to be allowed to use the proper washroom (though I will have to admit to believing that gender designated washrooms are way past their ‘best by” date but that’s a post for another day).
The straw person the anti-trans rights people are very fond of is that teenage boys and men will dress up as females to access washrooms for nefarious purposes.
It’s hard not to laugh, but it’s also hard not to see where they’d get such a trope of an idea given how often such a ruse is used in movies and television as a way for men to infiltrate the world of women.
But we should remember, it’s just a trope.
We should also ask ourselves just how often we’ve personally gender-checked everyone in a public washroom or change area before using it ourselves.
I would hazard the answer is – never.
The reality is that we’ve all been wandering about the world, minding our own businesses forever while LGBTQ have been doing precisely the same thing.
Just like trans kids have likely been using school washrooms too.
Some with more safety and success than others and that’s precisely the point of the implementation of Bill 10. Safety and success for trans kids in our school systems.
It boggles my mind that any adult would argue against making sure that children can go to school, use the washroom and change their clothes for P.E. and sports without being harassed or harmed.
Anti-safe washroom folks make some fairly wild claims about cis kids being harmed by their peers being allowed to use washrooms and locker rooms. Claims that frankly don’t add up given the fact that our kids are not squatting over open pits and have private stalls to change in locker rooms.
Factor in the reality that gender has nothing to do with sexuality, it’s hard to give much credence to the over-wrought fears of the anti-trans crowd.
But it’s easy to see this same religiously fueled discrimination agenda being extended to lesbian, gay, and bi kids if the nonsense sexuality meme is allowed to take hold.
I understand parents being fearful. It’s difficult when you realize that not only is your child an autonomous being but a sexual one too. And when both things scare you to your core, it’s a terrible day when you are faced with the fact that not only are both those things true, but in addition, your child has a life outside your home that you know very little about and have very little input into or control over.
The answer, which is obvious to most of us but not all, is to make sure that your child understands that they can come to you for anything and with anything. It’s establishing a relationship of open communication and trust so that you do know what’s going on at school, who your child’s friends are and what they are learning. And it’s remembering that your child’s world view and values really do start with you and school doesn’t change that.
What isn’t the answer is also very clear. Trying to control your child by imposing blanket control over other people’s children.
Human rights are human rights. We all live in the world together, and we venture out into the world first through school. We should not want our schools teaching that discrimination, harassment and exclusion are okay things in any instance at all.
There is nothing sexual about using the washroom when you need to go. Neither is changing in and out of your gym clothes. We shouldn’t be teaching our kids to be fearful of washrooms and change rooms. We shouldn’t be promoting the idea that either are unsafe places.
We should be making sure that all our kids feel safe and comfortable being themselves.
While adults are avoiding the necessary adulting that needs to happen with Bill 10 implementation, perhaps it would be a good time to step back and think about the effect this is having on our kids. What message is really being sent? I don’t think the anti crowd is sending the message they think they are and that’s a problem.
Human rights are human rights. That’s the line in the sand. If your religion is telling you otherwise, you have some serious soul-searching to do.