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Kristanna Loken
Kristanna Loken
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What should a school's role be in grey areas?

[EDITORS NOTE: This subject is being featured by both sides of the issue. Click here for all features regarding California's Assembly Bill No. 1266]
One plus one equals two. Blue and yellow create green. These facts generally go unchallenged because they are accepted as true and World War III is not going to break out if someone questions the validity of these statements. Nothing else in life is this simple especially since people think more independently as the years go by. It used to be that Archie Bunker's croon of "and you knew what you were then/girls were girls and men were men" stuck. That school of thought is outdated. People are more self-aware and more accepting. Not everyone born with female anatomy feels like a girl and not everyone born with male anatomy feels like a boy. But that's where things get complicated.

California legislators are proposing a bill that would allow school children to use bathrooms based on their gender identity. This would mean that a child who is listed as female in school records could potentially use the boys' bathroom if that child feels male. With this bill's passage, a male child would also be able to join an all-girls sports team if the child identified as a girl. The exact lingo of the bill is as follows:

  • "A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, and activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil's records."

Sex is black and white. Gender is grey. The question is what should a school's role be in grey areas?

A school cannot get into the mind of a child. How can a school assess if a child genuinely feels like a girl or just wants to be curious about seeing girls undress in a locker room? Schools should stick with what they know and keep it simple. They cannot meddle in grey areas and risk endangering students. If a child feels uncomfortable changing in a locker room, accommodations should be made. Gender issues aside, not everyone likes changing in front of others. This new rule would be uncomfortable for all parties involved. Male students are going to gawk at a female student in their locker room and vice versa. Allowing students to move seamlessly from room to room is not going to stop bullying if that's the point of this bill. Some supporters argue that the passage of this bill will help students feel accepted, but it seems it will make them stick out more. If people weren't socialized to believe that a person with a penis is a male and a person with breasts is a female, maybe this would all work out. But as it stands, this bill is nothing but a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Having boys and girls on the same sports team doesn't seem like such a big deal in comparison to the locker room and bathroom issue. Sports are great and help kids learn team work and build leadership skills. The only harm that could come in integrating the sports teams is if the teams continue to be seen as exclusively male or female. Sex-segregated sports would have to be banned altogether otherwise the risk of children feeling ostracized or singled out as the "only one" could arise. This same logic is true of bathrooms. The passage of this bill is not going to eliminate the idea of male and female because people have been socialized to think of themselves as one or the other for so long. Perhaps with time we can emerge as gender blind society, but how long will that take? Schools are racially desegregated, but in America everything is still black and white. Americans have not become color blind in the truest sense of the phrase. Laws do not change people's minds. They never have and they never will.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:10 PM EDT | More details


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