Transgendered in America: Public Schools, Public Restrooms and You
Last week, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a sweeping directive to all public schools about transgender students, thus unleashing a national controversy.
According to the Administration, the letter (which can be found at www.justice.gov) simply helps “provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.”
What is really going on here, though, is more than a letter with some suggestions. The Administration is force-feeding an entire worldview of human sexuality on schools and tying money to it, specifically implying that schools federal funding could be in question, if they do not comply with the implementation of the directives.
Southern Baptist blogger Trevin Wax said the Obama directive will have four immediate ramifications: 1) It will blaze a trail toward tyranny, because this is such an obvious Federal overreach; 2) It will co-opt the language and moral authority of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; 3) It will promote a new vision of what it means to be human; and 4) It will cause Christians to explore new education options.
Christian parents and grandparents, even while we contend for the soul and future of public schools, must take a more active role in supporting and expanding Christian schooling options—both home and private schools.
The Wax piece is well worth reading, and I believe his fourth point is especially important to ponder. There are other must-reads on this issue, including this one from Andrew Walker, this one from the ERLC and this one from Russell Moore. Here are some key questions this issue raises:
How many transgendered people are there in America?
There is no way to know the real statistic. However, according to an ABC News article, there are some 700,000 transgendered people in the United States. The Williams Institute, a source that has been cited by groups like Baptist Press, has estimated “that .3 percent of the population identifies as transgender suggest(ing) at least 950,000 Americans perceive their gender identity as not matching their biological sex.” So, let’s pick the higher number and round up, saying there are 1 million Americans who self-identify as transgendered. This is only 1 million out of 318 million people who self-identify as transgendered.
How many transgendered people are there in American schools?
The ABC article also said, “’If you’re in a high school of 2,000 kids, you’re probably going to have somewhere between two and four trans kids in that school at any one time,’ says Dr. Norman Spack, the co-director of the gender management clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital.”
If we generously apply his math to the whole, saying that four out of every 2,000 high school students self identifies as transgendered, this equals .2 percent of the student population. If you take the Williams Institute’s number of .3 percent, and apply it to the approximately 15 million high school students in American public schools, that means there are 45,000 transgendered students in American public schools. That is not a drop in the bucket by any means, yet it is a remarkably smaller number than we are led to believe.
How many transgendered people are there in Oklahoma schools?
Again, there is no way to know this. But applying the generous .3 percent estimate, there are 185,000 public high school in Oklahoma, which means there are 555 transgendered young people in Oklahoma public schools. With nearly 1,800 public schools in this state, that is not even one person for every school.
What is the directive making schools do?
Under their radical, expanded understanding of Title IX laws, the Feds say, “Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right.” The Supreme Court has not said Title IX applies here, but the Obama Administration does, hence the directive.
This means if a student or their parent/guardian simply say, “I was a boy and now I’m a girl” or “I was Tommy but now I am Sally,” everyone, from top to bottom must go along with it. Tommy (now “Sally”) must be allowed to play on the girls’ soccer team, use the girls’ locker room and bathroom and be called “Sally” by every faculty member and student, or face the consequences. There’s no doctors note required, no psychologist’s word of endorsement, no nothing. Just one student deciding they are now a different sex than they were at birth. Therefore, schools must make radical, costly structural and personnel accommodations that have never been required before, or else lose their Federal funding.
What’s the problem and what do we do now?
As Trevin Wax points out, this White House decree is a Federal overreach of the first order. Texas’ Lt. Governor went so far as to call it “blackmail,” because funding is attached to the demands. Whatever the case, these sweeping changes happened with virtually no public debate on the issue and with states and localities having limited-to-no input.
…though people who identify as transgendered is a very small number of the population, we must resist the tendency to marginalize or ostracize them.
What is more, every public school is required to make changes to bathrooms, locker rooms and sports without any track record as to how this affects order, decency and privacy of students. This simply cannot stand.
As Andrew Walker pointed out, people who are frustrated by this must do the following:
- “Schools should refuse to comply with the federal government’s overreach.”
- “Citizens should contact their elected representatives to register their dissatisfaction.”
- “Citizens need to take their frustration to the ballot box.”
- “State legislatures should pass laws that counteract this decree.”
- “We should see that actions like this invite God’s judgment on our land—as any rejection of Christ’s Lordship does.”
- “Christians should take stock of the cultural moment.”
- “Christian parents need to evaluate what this means for them and their children. They need to establish a tipping point. This may be the most important response to consider. What actions taken by your local school will be sufficient for you to re-evaluate public education?”
In conclusion, we are in a cultural tug of war which continues to escalate. The Obama Administration’s decree discouraged responsible public debate and only heightened tensions. Christians must stand strong in our convictions that we are made male and female by God (Genesis 1), and that God doesn’t make mistakes.
We also must recognize that though people who identify as transgendered is a very small number of the population, we must resist the tendency to marginalize or ostracize them. With compassion, we should love our transgendered neighbors in the Name of Christ and not politicize the issue.
Finally, Christian parents and grandparents, even while we contend for the soul and future of public schools, must take a more active role in supporting and expanding Christian schooling options—both home and private schools.
If these disturbing trends continue, and it comes time for an exodus from the public schools, our people will want to find Christian education options that feel like a land of milk and honey.