Chicago Public Schools announced on Monday that students and staff must be granted unfettered access to intimate school facilities based on their chosen gender identity.
Put concretely, boys now have the “right” to undress in the girls locker room before gym class so long as they say they would feel more comfortable doing so. Kids and teens have many things to worry about as they grow into adulthood and get an education. But having to deal with people of the opposite sex in their bathrooms and showers shouldn’t be one of them.
This latest front in the bathroom wars proves that same-sex marriage was merely the start, not end, of the left’s LGBT agenda. As demonstrated by enforcement actions by the Department of Justice, private lawsuits, and court decisions, the radical left is using government power to coerce children into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology over and above their right to privacy, safety, and religious freedom.
Here’s how it works. First, the left tried to elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to special protected status in law but failed repeatedly using the democratic process. Undaunted, the administration turned to lawmaking-by-rulemaking. Specifically, President Barack Obama’s Departments of Justice and Education issued diktats reinterpreting Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination in federally funded education programs to mean “gender identity discrimination.”
Of course, when Title IX was passed in 1972, “sex” referred then to what it still refers to now: the basic biological reality of being male or female. Nevertheless, having made their discovery to the contrary (over 40 years after the law was passed) the administration went around the country threatening schools with revocation of millions in educational funds if they did not allow kids unfettered access to the locker room of their choice.
Following this lead, the Chicago Public Schools cites Title IX and sexual harassment policies to justify its new policies.
A law from the 70s designed mostly to protect girls and women from sexism and harassment in schools is now being used to grant boys the right to undress in the girls locker room (and vice versa) all in the name of psychological comfort and acceptance.
In a weak acknowledgement of the uproar this will cause, the Chicago Public Schools says students that are not gender confused “should” be allowed access to alternative facilities. So, for example, if there are fifty girls who object to a boy undressing in front of them, it is the fifty girls, not the boy, who must go change in “single stall restrooms” elsewhere. Of course, the odds are high that school officials on the lookout for any sign of “bullying” will take careful note of which students leave the locker rooms, presuming they are allowed to leave at all.
To add to the confusion, the definition of gender identity changes about every three months, so the rules we are supposed to live by are constantly moving. But the latest definition, according to the Chicago Public Schools, is that sex is merely “a label a person is assigned at birth” and that the reality lies in one’s internal “psychological knowledge” of their own gender “regardless of the[ir] biological sex.”
This includes “male/man/boy, female/woman/girl, trans/transgender, gender variant, gender nonconforming, agender, gender non-binary, or any combination of these terms.” Whatever bureaucrat or committee wrote this definition felt compelled to add that gender nonconforming also covers “Gender Expansive, Gender Variant, or Gender Creative,” apparently to cover all the bases, except they may have missed some because the latest count, according to the left and some corporations, is sixty possible gender identities.
Under this definition, the only possible way we can know a person’s gender identity is by asking them, and if they consistently answer the same thing, bingo, that’s their gender identity. If the Chicago Public Schools or the Department of Justice simply required separate private facilities for the minuscule number of students who are not comfortable changing in front of people of their own sex, there would not be a national debate over bathrooms.
Except they require that if a boy says he is a girl, he must be treated exactly like a girl in every respect, otherwise it is psychologically traumatic and illegal discrimination. This means that portions of sex education classes reserved just for girls (so they can speak with less trepidation about sensitive topics, like menstruation) must include every boy that feels like a girl.
And therein lies the biggest affront from these new policies. Not only must government employees play along with a gender confused child’s every subjective wish, so must every other student. In fact, the Chicago Public Schools specify that students must address a gender confused child by whatever pronoun they wish, be it “they, their, ze, he and she.” Failure to do so “will result in appropriate consequences for offending staff and students,” in other words, discipline up to and including expulsion from school.
But many people of good will and faith conviction will simply refuse to put aside their legitimate privacy, modesty, and safety concerns. Many children of good will resist being forced to say “she” when speaking of a boy they have known for years just as they would resist being forced to say “5” when asked “what does 2+2 equal?
The left for years claimed that all they wanted was for LGBT persons to be left alone but this was a lie. It is now clear that liberals and their enablers will not leave anyone alone and will use the full force of courts, lawsuits, and government to ensure any resistance to their new gender ideology “will result in appropriate consequences.”
Roger Severino is the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.