Friday, October 31, 2014
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Las Vegas Gambles with Student Privacy
From Christian Newswire
Las Vegas has long boasted of its commitment to confidentiality with its trademark phrase “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” Now its Clark County public schools appear poised to stretch the definition of confidentiality to encompass whether a student is a boy or a girl.
Privacy advocate Karen England notes:
“For some time those who want to blur the distinction between boys and girls have referred to gender as ‘assigned at birth.’ Now they are going a step further in claiming that this allegedly arbitrary and possibly mistaken assignment is confidential medical information that cannot be used to determine which bathroom, shower or locker room a student will use.”
Clearly biology and the law recognize a distinction between males and females. But there is increasing pressure across the country to look past biological sex and allow individuals, especially students, to self asses their gender and use facilities that they claim are more fitting with that identity.
“I have nothing but compassion for the junior high boy that believes biology has betrayed him, but I also want to protect the privacy of the junior high girl that might be forced to share a locker room and disrobe in front of him,” said England.
England helped lead an effort to overturn by referendum California’s 2013 “co-ed bathroom law.” That first of its kind legislation would allow kindergarten through 12th grade students in California’s public schools to use bathroom, shower and locker facilities based on their own claim of gender identity. The referendum effort has gone to court a second time after government officials erroneously invalidated more than one in five of the signatures gathered. The first court battle was a victory for backers of the referendum to overturn the law.
Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the nation, seems ready to take a shortcut to creating its own “co-ed bathroom law.” They are moving forward by distributing guidelines to staff and plan to implement the policy without the support of a public vote. In fact the school district is so intent on quickly but secretly implementing the policy that they are denying that the policy, obtained by opponents, even exists.
Advocates of open bathrooms are stressing the need for quick action without review or vote by claiming that such a policy will reduce bullying. Opponents note that this opens the school district to expense and may jeopardize insurance coverage if legal action follows for violation of student privacy.
“By declaring that biological sex of a student is confidential medical information and then allowing entry to the bathroom based on gender identity rather than reality, school bathrooms will effectively become non-sex separate,” said England. “Forcing boys and girls to share a bathroom and locker room will not reduce bullying, it is bullying.”
While much attention has been given to a few students who claim that they would feel more comfortable using facilities now reserved for members of the opposite sex, little attention has been paid to those who will feel violated or humiliated by the presence of biologically opposite students in these facilities.
“It is offensive to say that separate bathrooms is discriminatory,” said England. “Discrimination is when we treat same things differently, not when we treat different things differently. While a boy or a girl may identify with the opposite sex, they are physically different. Basic decency calls for us to defend our children’s right to not be exposed.”
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company