Readin’, Writin’ and Transgenderin’

On Friday, US public schools got schooled. They received a letter from the US Department of Justice and the Education Department regarding transgender students.

The letter says public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with the gender they identify with. (Yes, I know it’s “with which they identify” but that sounds so awfully formal in my blog so I wrote it incorrectly. On purpose. Dangling participles be damned.)

In short, the letter spells out what’s expected of public schools in exchange for the federal funding they receive. Loretta Lynch is the Attorney General who sent out a statement along with the directive, which included the following statement:

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination of any transgender students on the basis of their sex.”

And schools are responding. Iowa cried foul. Texas called it blackmail, with the state’s Lt. Governor saying Texas will forfeit federal education money rather than follow the guidelines as they were laid out. Iowa, North Carolina

What’s interesting to me is this: I have two kids, both in middle school. They’re old enough to understand the situation and they’re perfectly fine with the idea of transgender students using whatever restroom they choose. Their friends seem to be, as well. Perhaps I live in a tiny little bubble of acceptance land, where we don’t discriminate and we don’t judge. But I have to believe that kids elsewhere might feel the same way.

I wrote in a previous blog about a Virginia students’ fight to use the boys’ restroom. The kids didn’t have a problem with it. The school board had an issue, and they’re the ones who raised it up to the court level, fighting to make this student use the girl’s room even though he identifies as male. If the kids don’t care, why are we adults making it a huge deal?

Maybe, just maybe, our children are more open and accepting than we are. As we strive to teach them lessons — in the classroom, in the home, and in their lives — they’re learning. Let them learn well the lesson of acceptance. And please let us be the ones to teach it. Because right now, it seems that we’re the ones that could use some schoolin’.

Bullies or Bigots?

With lawsuits flying back and forth between the US Justice Department and the state of North Carolina, there’s a whole lotta drama going on. NC Gov. Pat McCrory seems to think the government is confused about its HB2 law, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Law.” The state sued the Government, and the Government sued back. Think of it as Civil War 2.0.

McCrory is fundraising for his campaign’s re-election, asking supporters to “fight back against the federal government’s overreach and bullying tactics.” He seems to think that the government threatening to withhold federal funding as a result of HB2 is overreaching. The government says, “McCrory, you’re about as wrong as pairing okra with ice cream.” It’s a matter of equal rights for all.

I love Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s statement to the LGBT community:

“Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

Wow. For all of the times I’ve complained about Government losing sight of the people it’s supposed to protect – which is frequently, sadly – I believe they got it right this time.

(By the way, for you trivia buffs, Obama is the first president to ever mention the word “transgender” in a State of the Union speech. I know, you probably thought Washington said it, but he probably glossed over it in favor of things like Valley Forge and paddling across the Potomac. Different priorities, I guess.)

Of course, it remains to be seen who will win this particular battle. Each day seems to bring a new development for the so-called Bathroom Law. What do you think? Is the Government overstepping its bounds by enforcing equal rights and cutting off funding to NC?  Is NC discriminating against the LGBT community?