Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would close a loophole in the state’s anti-discrimination law which forces schools to let transgender students use the restrooms of their choice – regardless of their anatomy.
According to a bill introduced by State Rep. Colleen Garry, access to bathrooms and athletic facilities would be controlled by an individual’s anatomical sex – regardless of their gender identity.
The bill reads: “The meaning of ‘gender identity’ shall be distinct from that of ‘sex’ and ‘sexual orientation.’ Access to lawfully sex-segregated facilities, accommodations, resorts and amusements, as well as educational, athletic, and therapeutic activities and programs, shall be controlled by an individual’s anatomical sex of male or female, regardless of that individual’s gender identity.”
“This is a hot button issue in Massachusetts,” said Garry, who describes herself as a socially conservative, pro-gun Democrat.
Andrew Beckwith, general counsel for the Massachusetts Family Institute, praised Garry’s bill as a good solution.
“It cuts to the chase,” he told Fox News. “It’s a fair and sensible approach to this issue.”
He said Garry’s involvement – as a Democrat – is proof that this is not a partisan issue.
“Everyone should be and hopefully is concerned about the safety and privacy rights of all children,” he said. “There is bipartisan support for a common sense solution that is fair to everyone.”
The Mass. Dept. of Education issued an 11-page directive demanding that schools accept a student’s gender identity on face value. The guidelines were issued at the request of the department to help schools follow the 2011 anti-discrimination law protecting transgender students.
“A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl,” the guidelines stipulate.
That means fifth grade girls could be sharing locker rooms and bathroom facilities with eighth grade boys – who identify as girls.
Under the state guidelines the fifth grade girl would have no recourse to complain. Any student who refuses to refer to a transgendered student by the name or sex they identify with could face punishment.
“It should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline,” the mandate states.
Garry told Fox News it was simply outrageous to imagine such a scenario.
“To turn around and tell high school girls that because a young man feels he’s a female – their feelings are of no issue whatsoever – that only his feelings are important – is absolutely outrageous,” she said.
But state education officials say the feelings of the transgender student trump those of other students – noting their discomfort “is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”
Gunner Scott, of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, told the Associated Press that he supported punishing those who don’t acknowledge a student’s gender identity – saying it was a form of bullying.
“The reality is that it’s about creating an inclusive environment for all students to learn,” he said.
Garry said children already have a difficult time adjusting to their own sexuality – much less dealing with a classmate’s.
Beckwith said the education department essentially came up with a speech code.
“If you don’t play along with the biological lie of the gender identity issues you will be punished,” he said. “How are third and fourth grade students supposed to figure out these cutting edge issues that are still up in the air medically?”
Garry said to expose children to this in high school is “absolutely outrageous.”
“To take the individual interests of one person who may or may not be transgendered – and make those interests more important is just wrong,” she said.
Garry’s bill also addresses the issue of allowing boys who say they identify as girls to play on female athletic teams – as well as use the same locker rooms.
Bill Gillmeister, of Brookfield, Mass., said his daughter may not play sports as a result of the mandate.
“That concerns me greatly,” he told Fox News. “My daughter would likely not play a sport that she would otherwise play if she knew there was a potential for a boy to walk into the girl’s locker room.”
Garry said she understands the frustration and fear parents are feeling.
“Kids at that age have a really difficult time with their own sexuality – never mind being forced to deal with that in a locker room,” she said. “It really is a tough age – and to turn around and say ‘We don’t care how you feel. Johnny’s rights are more important (is wrong).”
Garry told Fox News that many Democrats as well as Republicans are upset with the directive.
“The liberals have been more vocal, but I’m a very socially conservative Democrat and there are a lot of us,” she said – noting that she is also pro-Second Amendment.
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