One of Minnesota’s oldest anti-LGBT organizations, The Minnesota Family Council [MNFC] has issued an “Action Alert” this week urging their followers to call the St Paul Public School Board [SPPS] to oppose the new gender inclusion policy. This follows the Minnesota Child Protection Leagues [CPLAction PAC] launching of a petition asking state legislators to repeal the recently passed Transgender Athletic Policy by the Minnesota State High School League [MSHSL].
The SPPS began their conversation about the gender inclusion in February of 2014 and will have the policies third and final reading this month. The policy is expected to pass unanimously and has had little resistance until this last week when the CPLAction PAC and the MN Family Council launched their assault on both the board, students who are transgender as well as parents of transgender children.
“These “transgender policies” will become a growing trend in culture–if we do or say nothing to stand up for all our kids, including those who identify as transgender.” Reads the email from the MN Family Council, “St. Paul Public Schools has also been distributing “Myths & Facts” related to their transgender policy. Sadly, their “Facts” leave out a lot of important information.
The SPPS “Myths & Facts” sheet accurately portraits the legitimate concerns raised over the last year concerning gender inclusion across the state of Minnesota, however, the MNFC decided to issue their own “True & False” sheet to “get an accurate picture of what these types of Transgender Policies actually do.”
Although repeatedly proven false, The MNFC’s list of “truths” continues to push the same fear-based talking points that were used during the MSHSL meetings, these include:
- “Transgender policies” actually give students struggling with their gender identity rights above and beyond everyone else, ultimately harming everyone, including them.
- EVERYONE’s basic physical privacy rights are violated when students are forced to use facilities where a member of the opposite sex may see them in a state of undress.
- Parents DO have a right to know that their children’s basic privacy rights are being protected, particularly when their children are in intimate settings away from home.
- No state or federal law requires schools to permit biological boys to use girls’ showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms; biological girls to use boys’ showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms; or biological boys to participate on girls’ athletic teams in order to avoid being “discriminatory.”
The MN Family Council must have missed the big news on April 24, 2014 when the U.S. Department of Education released new guidelines concerning transgender and gender non-conforming students. Under Title IX, transgender and gender non-conforming students are now protected from discrimination, thus creating a federal law that now prohibits discrimination based on sex within the public school system. Title IX states:
In 1993, Minnesota passed a comprehensive Human Rights Act that prohibits any form of discrimination based on Sexual Orientation [363A subd. 44]. Gender Identity was later added as an amendment to the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances, “creating a stand-alone category of “gender identity,” defining this as “A person’s actual or perceived self-image or identity as expressed through dress, appearance, behavior, speech or similar characteristics, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s physical anatomy, chromosomal sex, or sex at birth.”
The ACLU states, “If a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation defines “sexual orientation” to include gender identity (as, for example, the ones in Colorado, Illinois, and Minnesota do), it protects transgender people as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.”
Both the CPLAction and MN Family Council also continue to push the trope concerning public safety and bathroom usage. The MNFC states, “Most everyone understands that it makes no sense to place biological males in female bathrooms and locker rooms, and that it makes no sense to place a biologically female student in all-male bathrooms and locker rooms.”
Most public schools in Minnesota have been retrofitted with additional shower and locker facilities starting in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law requiring additional facilities for those that are not able to access public restrooms. Minnesota currently has a policy that allows any student to request a private locker and bathroom, regardless of gender identity, and in every known case in Minnesota, either the coaches locker facility or the bathrooms in the nurses offices have been used. At no point, have there been “biological males and females” co-mingling in the locker and shower facilities.
Instead of debunking misinformation and straw-man scenarios and assumptions presented by the MNFC, Minnesota has already positively and successfully implemented this policy in the Hopkins School District 270 with Jae Bates. Jae is the Hopkins, Minnesota graduate who in the 11th grade informed his coaches that he wanted to be addressed as a transgender male. I reached out to Jae in November when the MSHSL Transgender Athletic Policy was under scrutiny to find out what kind of accommodations were offered to make him feel inclusive and safe as a trans athlete, Jae stated,
“Hopkins was very accommodating and most accommodations were made by the coaches directly rather than the district. I actually never had a problem that wasn’t immediately addressed that would require going to the district level. My coaches changed my name on all of their rosters and allowed me to compete the way I wanted and encouraged me to keep an open line of communication about if that were to ever change. I was allowed access to gender neutral bathrooms to change if I desired them and they kept the team a very friendly and supportive place.”
A person’s transgender status is private medical information that is protected under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPPA] and deliberately “outing” a student at school without their permission is a direct violation of this law and endangers a student’s safety and, therefore, parents do not have the right to violate another child’s privacy for the benefit of others.
According to National Center of Transgender Equality, more than half of the students who are transgender are victimized on a regular basis. The report shows:
- 82% of transgender youth report that they feel unsafe at school
- 44% of them had been abused physically (ex. punched, shoved, etc.)
- 67% of them had been bullied online
- 64% of them had their property stolen or destroyed
What are the results of this constant victimization? According to the CDC, LGBT youth that are rejected are:
- About six times more likely to be seriously depressed
- More than eight times more likely to attempt suicide
- More than three times more likely to abuse illegal drugs
- More than three times more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior
Statements like “boys who self-identify as girls and want to play AS girls on girls’ teams,” “allows boys who believe they are girls in the girls’ showers, locker rooms, and restroom facilities,” and repeatedly putting the word transgender in quotes, feeds the fear of the general public’s misunderstanding of people who are transgender and have proven to be a guaranteed money maker for these anti-LGBT groups.
The passing of the SPPS Gender Inclusion Policy will hand CPLAction PAC and Minnesota Family Council their third defeat in less than two years and when your hate organization includes the words “Family” or “Child Protection,” it’s difficult to understand what children they are trying to protect and why it has to come at the expense of other children’s safety and rights.