Good stories. Bad stories. Stories which are a little bit of both.
And then there are stories which are just plain ugly. Often they include nasty commentary by someone from Fox News.
Like Bill O'Reilly.
Recently the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a directive targeting the treatment of transgender students by schools, teachers, school staff, and administrators.
The eleven-page document is entitled Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools -- Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment
The main point is the implementation of the underlined portion of the law (An Act Relative to Gender Identity) which became effective on July 1, 2012.
No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.
Throughout the diary I have included photos of transgender youth. You get to decide which ones you would be uncomfortable sharing the restroom or locker room with.
A requirement of the law was that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provide guidance to school districts to assist implementation of the gender identity provision. And this document fulfills that requirement, to the vociferous horror of those who opposed the original bill…which passed and became law. Yes, the losers are objecting to the implementation of the law which they could not prohibit.
Representative Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) and other legislators have met with Educational Commissioner Mitchell Chester seeking to define a student's identity based on anatomical sex rather than gender identity…in contradiction to the law as enacted.
An anatomical male in a locker room could make girls feel uncomfortable and vice versa.
Garry has gone so far as to introduce a bill to change the law…that is, to rescind the enactment of equal educational rights for gender-variant students.
The educational department has said it has no plans to rescind the guidance.
It's time we say enough to this radical social agenda promoted by the administration and use common sense to protect our children.
--Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica)
In reading the guidance…as if those who are complaining would have done so…one discovers that among other things, it spends considerable effort trying to educate about who exactly transgender youth are and establishes guidelines to identify those students. It is not the case that a student can just decide one day that he or she is the other gender and wishes to use different restrooms or locker rooms.
Confirmation of a student’s asserted gender identity may include a letter from a parent, health care provider, school staff member familiar with the student (a teacher, guidance counselor, or school psychologist, among others), or other family members or friends. A letter from a social worker, doctor, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider stating that a student is being provided medical care or treatment relating to her/his gender identity is one form of confirmation of an asserted gender identity. It is not, however,the exclusive form upon which the school or student may rely. A letter from a clergy member, coach, family friend, or relative stating that the student has asked to be treated consistent with her/his asserted gender identity, or photographs at public events or family gatherings, are other potential forms of confirmation. These examples are intended to be illustrative rather than comprehensive.
The document goes on to explain the process of gender transition, the issue of names and pronouns, and the handling of privacy, confidentiality, student records, and gender markers.
But those who are complaining have zeroed in on the four paragraphs concerning the use of restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities.
Jesse Begenyi, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, said Garry's bill does not protect transgender-student rights…but then we knew she doesn't give a shit about the transgender students, didn't we?
They are students who aren't trying to be disruptive. They are trying to fit in and use the appropriate facility to fit in.
Garry's bill would direct transgender students to be put in harms way.
Transgender students know what's safest for them, and to have someone telling them where they need to be -- that's unsafe.
There's a difference between comfort and safety, and the people who are unsafe are the transgender students.
--Grace Sterling Stowell, Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth
Stowell avers that the safety of the transgender students should be the overriding concern of the state, not the comfort of the non-transgender students.
And of course we have the following from the quackery:
Anatomy is a (clear) distinction, whereas gender identification is fluid and can flow back and forth. The law enacted a broad standard, but the commission took it to the extreme.
--Andrew Beckwith, Massachusetts Family Institute
--World News Daily
No, I wouldn't go there if I were you. It's plain ugly.
Note that WND is only concerned with allowing boys into the girls' locker rooms. Transboys, in their view, do not exist. And transgirls are rapists and voyeurs.
All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities that are sanitary, safe, and adequate, so they can comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities. In meeting with the transgender student (and parent) to discuss the issues set forth in this memorandum, it is essential that the principal and student address the student’s access to the restrooms, locker room and changing facility. Each situation needs to be reviewed and addressed based on the particular circumstances of the student and the school facilities. In all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the
student’s gender identity. While some transgender students will want that arrangement, others will not be comfortable with it. Transgender students who are uncomfortable using a sex-segregated restroom should be provided with a safe and adequate alternative, such as a single “unisex” restroom or the nurse’s restroom. Similarly, some transgender students may not be comfortable undressing in the changing facilities that correspond to the student’s gender identity.
Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students.
And of course, this is where Bill O'Reilly felt it was appropriate to make fun of transgender students.
The restrictions about the conversations with parents that O'Reilly refers to, as far as I can tell (having, you know, actually read the document in question) are called FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Meanwhile, I read from the document that restroom, locker room, and changing room decisions are supposed to be made in consultation with the parent.
To do this subject justice requires discussion of a couple of other stories. But that would extend this diary beyond the length people are comfortable reading. So it is no doubt best that there be a follow-up to this story tomorrow evening, with stories out of California and Colorado.