The human race consists of both male and female. It was designed that way for our good, and the good of humanity itself. The two genders complement each other. The sexual complementarity of men and women is the only union that can produce children. Children, in turn, benefit greatly when their lives are enriched with the unique contributions provided by both genders.
Despite the natural order that gives us male and female genders, there are children who experience confusion about their gender, expressing strong feelings identifying with the gender that is opposite that of their birth. Those children are entitled to love and support, and should be protected from discrimination and bullying in school. Indeed, California already has laws to protect those children by prohibiting discrimination and bullying based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender non-conforming appearance and behavior.
AB 1266 is not really about protecting transgendered students, since we already have laws on the books to do that. Rather, its purpose is to advance an adult political agenda by special interests who wish to use our public schools as a tool to strip gender and gender differences from societal norms. In the process, the privacy and security interests of all students, including those who are transgendered, are compromised.
Assembly Bill 1266 mandates that students must be given access to sensitive school facilities customarily segregated by sex – showers, bathrooms and locker rooms — according to a student’s “gender identity” and not based on their actual sex. It also provides that students can join school sports and athletic teams based on gender “identity” and not actual sex. Under this legislation, a teenage male with his fully developed masculinity may avail himself of the girl’s restroom, locker room and shower facilities (and vice versa) regardless of any privacy and safety concerns of other students. It’s the only legislation of its kind in the nation.
The bill is flawed, poorly drafted and lacks appropriate and reasonable safeguards to protect the interests of all students in California schools. A coalition of citizens has filed a proposed referendum to give voters the chance to decide whether to allow AB 1266 to take effect, or to rescind it. They’ve asked for my assistance, and I have agreed to advise them. I have helped manage three successful referendum campaigns in California, including turning back proposed laws related to mandated health insurance and third-party lawsuits. Overall, I’ve helped managed 15 statewide initiative and referendum campaigns in California, and won 14 of them.
We are all God’s children, entitled to love and human dignity. Certainly, it is wrong whenever a child suffers discrimination and bullying for any reason. We have laws on the books to guard against that. But it’s also wrong to use our laws to frustrate and deny great natural and moral truths. One such truth is that men and women offer unique and complementary contributions to human flourishing. Society is better served when those contributions are encouraged, not when the uniqueness of being male and being female are stripped from societal norms and we’re guided into a genderless future. This is especially true when, as with AB 1266, children are used as weapons in a culture war.
Here are some of the many problems with AB 1266:
Poorly Drafted. AB 1266 ignores common sense and practicalities about gender and gender differences and jeopardizes the privacy and security of California students. The bill contains no definitions, guidelines or standards for educators to follow in assessing situations, nor does it contain any provisions to guard the privacy and security concerns of students who might be disturbed about sharing intimate school facilities – showers, changing areas and bath room facilities – with someone of the opposite biological sex. The lack of standards and definitions make it rife for abuse.
One Size Fits All. The bill mandates a “one size fits all” approach, failing to provide educators with flexibility to choose less-invasive solutions, such as giving transgendered students access to private or faculty facilities, or customizing approaches that meet the unique needs of a transgendered student. As a result, many transgendered students may find themselves stigmatized by AB 1266, unable to avail themselves of solutions designed to meet the needs of the specific student and instead forced into a “one size fits all” approach. For example, some school districts currently give transgendered students the option of choosing a single stall bathroom for increased privacy. AB 1266 is so poorly drafted that it may eliminate this option.
Lacks Safeguards. Some California school districts have existing rules that give transgendered students the ability to use bathroom and locker room facilities consistent with their so-called gender identity, but those jurisdictions have at least adopted some minimal standards to guard against abuse. For example, in order to claim a gender identity that differs from their biologic sex, a student in San Francisco must have presented a gender identity “exclusively and consistently at school.” AB 1266 contains no such requirement, allowing any student to assert a gender identity at school at any time.
No Parental Involvement. AB 1266 also fails to provide a role for parents in determining a course of action for a student. Some students may be suffering from gender confusion, wherein a teen is genuinely confused about the strong feelings they have identifying with the gender opposite of how they were born. Involving the child’s parents in fashioning a course of conduct for that student could be critical to his or her ultimate well-being, yet AB 1266 contains no provisions for parental involvement.
Lacks Balance. AB 1266 fails to include any provisions that seek to balance the interests of a transgendered student with the rights of all other students. This is especially important in the critical area of personal privacy. Current policies in some districts provide for “accommodation and the needs and privacy concerns of all students involved.” AB 1266 fails to provide any balance or reasonable accommodation in its approach.
Qualifying the AB 1266 referendum to the ballot will be difficult, requiring the involvement of tens of thousands of volunteers, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Time is of the essence – referendum backers have only 90 days from when the bill was chaptered to collect the approximately 505,000 signatures needed to give voters the final say.
To get involved in the referendum effort, please go to www.PrivacyForAllStudents.com.
Frank Schubert is president of Mission Public Affairs, LLC and has twice been named America’s top political consultant.