Educators condemn new anti-LGBT laws

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by Sabrina Holcomb

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When North Carolina’s General Assembly passed House Bill 2 in an emergency session week before last, it was widely condemned as the nation’s worst anti-LGBT rights bill. Wholesale legislation that eliminated protections for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens had civil rights advocates wondering what century they were in.

Not to be outdone, Mississippi has approved even more sweeping legislation, prompting critics to call House Bill 1523 the most hateful anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill to date. Civil rights advocates hoping HB 1523 would die on the governor’s desk were horrified when he signed the bill into law this week.

Darein Spann
Darein Spann

“Governor Bryant has set us back 60 years,” declared high school teacher and NEA Board member Darein Spann, a black Mississippian who is no stranger to fighting for civil rights. “When will the word discriminate not be in the same sentence as Mississippi? It’s a sad day for our state. People once used religion to justify legalized discrimination against black people. Now they’re using it to discriminate against another group.”

Mississippi’s new law permits schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students, denies children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families, and allows foster families to subject LGBTQ children to the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy.” It gives businesses, public employees, and taxpayer-funded religious groups the right to refuse a wide range of services to LGBT citizens; fire LGBT workers; deny access to bathrooms, spas, and locker rooms; and enforce sex-specific dress and grooming rules.

Mississippi and North Carolina are just the tip of the iceberg. More than 115 bills legalizing discrimination against LGBT citizens were introduced nationwide in 2015, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and many are still pending. A bill targeting transgender students in public schools and universities is currently moving through the Tennessee legislature.

As anxious LGBT-rights activists wonder where and when the next domino will fall, educators worry about the policy and financial impacts of discriminatory legislation on their LGBT students and colleagues.

Education experts say North Carolina alone stands to lose $4.5 billion in federal funding under Title IX’s anti-discrimination provisions, a loss the state, 46th in the nation in per pupil funding, can ill afford.

rodney ellis NCAE
Rodney Ellis

To protest the high human price of North Carolina’s bill, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and partners are planning a week of action that includes pray-ins, walk-ins, teach-ins, and rallies statewide. They’re also supporting a repeal of HB 2 that will be filed on the opening day of the legislative session, according to NCAE president Rodney Ellis. “This bill goes against our core value of equality for every individual and dismantles decades of civil rights progress,” stated Ellis.

Tripp Jeffers, an NCAE and NEA Board member, says he’ll join the fight. “This particular legislature seems obsessed with removing rights rather than extending them,” noted the high school history and government teacher. “First it was suppression of voting rights. Now it’s LGBT rights. What’s next? That’s why it’s important for educators to stand up against discrimination, whatever form it takes. And it’s important for students to see us taking that stand.

“The generation we teach right now is much more accepting and open to differences,” added Jeffers, “and that gives me hope.”

Reader Comments

  1. From a pragmatic perspective, how are male-identified women going to use a urinal?

    Such nonsense. Restrooms are ‘plumbing’ specific, no more , no less. Everybody who wants their 15 year old girl’s privacy invaded by some voyeuristic boy in high school, raise your hand.

    I am not sure if there is or is not a god or what his/her agenda is, but there has to be a lot of head shaking going on and self questioning… like…. how did I screw this up do badly?

  2. People look at yourselves in the mirror think about what you have become, people of fear and hatred of others because of their gender even your neighbors. If all these people continue to hate, who would want to live in your state? God create us different yes but did he ask us to judge others and hate them because of who they are? I was raise to respect my elders, pears, and others way of life and there is one they I also learn and that is do not judge others because of who they are or their gender. If I judge others because of this, then I am no better then the next person and so to the two state look what you have become a state of fear and hatred how sad that the whole world is judging others because they are not like you.

  3. To Bobbie: So you’re saying you have no fear of a transgendered person sharing your bathroom yet you want to build a whole separate system just to prevent a few isolated individuals that try to pose as one!? Really? Who’s being naïve now?

      1. Bobbie: What you’re saying sounds like “separate but equal” and we already know how well that’s worked in the past. I also argue that separate facilities would open transgendered people to even greater discrimination. You may as well paint a target on anyone that enters a restroom labeled that way.

        Transgendered people were already accommodated quietly long before HB2 passed. It isn’t like they weren’t using public restrooms all along. How many “posing” incidents of which you claim were ever reported? I would bet NONE. This is only an issue now because some religious zealots are making it one.

  4. Doesn’t North Carolina’s “bathroom law” essentially require educators to violate FERPA and HIPAA?

    If a child presents as male, uses a male name and male pronouns, but the school deliberately “outs” that child as transgender by steering him to the girls’ restroom, it seems to me the school has violated FERPA.

    Let’s say that same child is supported in his gender transition by medical professionals–perhaps a physician who has prescribed puberty-suppressing hormones, and who has notified the school of potential effects of treatment that may affect the student’s learning or behavior; or a therapist who has collaborated with the student and parents on a gender transition plan that incorporates the child’s school life. Then let’s say the school “outs” the student as undergoing gender transition by requiring medically inappropriate treatment. It seems to me the school has violated the medical privacy aspects of HIPAA.

    Is the a legitimate legal theory? Is NCAE or NEA Human and Civil Rights pursuing such a legal theory?

  5. My children do not feel comfortable with someone of the opposite sex in the locker room , bathroom, etc. They have rights too. I agree with Bobbie and Kevin. Give everyone their bathroom/pace. Also, I am not saying a transgender is a sexual predator. However, I am saying my children, who have rights, do not feel comfortable and should not be discriminated against.

  6. I have a daughter, and because there are stalls, she may never know if she’s in the bathroom with a person who has lived falsely (thanks to societal pressure) as a man and is now courageous enough to live her life as the woman she was born to be. I, too, as well as my mom, sisters–in-law, and female friends, may never know if I’m sharing a bathroom with a transgender person. These people have a hard enough battle outside of that private stall. This does not need to be yet another one. This is not a violation of women’s (or men’s rights for the men’s bathroom) or the right to privacy; it is trying to help make rights accessible for all. And, seriously, folks, how many people will this affect, both in terms of those who are transgendered and those who apparently have to worry about this in a public bathroom?? Let’s not forget that these bills also heavily discriminate against gays and lesbians. That is flat-out wrong and takes us backwards in time.

  7. What about the rights of women? My daughter is a talented athlete. Laws that protect the “so called rights” of the LGBT population leave the door open for situations like a biological male insisting on the “right” to compete on female teams if they claim to “identify as a woman”. We all know that biological men as a group have greater upper body strength than biological women. If this were allowed, it would change the face of athletic competition and severely limit the rights of our daughters to compete athletically. I have heard that this has already come up as an issue with the Olympics. Like all of us, people who identify as as L, G, B, or T are created in the image and likeness of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but this does not give them the right to trample over the rights of non L, G, B, or T individuals.

  8. I am a member of NEA but they do not speak for me on this issue. I do not hate my LGBT students or fellow faculty members, but my religious rights are usually neglected by the positions taken by NEA, and that is again the case here. Please remember that you have conservative teachers and students you should be representing as well as those with more secular viewpoints. I resent your implying that you speak for all teachers in this for you do not have my support on this. I wonder what kind of world we are creating when every piece of legislation that comes up is viewed as hate and not protection. It is my wish for NEA to step back and realize that you are not promoting equality, but instead implying that people who hold traditional moral standards should be ignored.

    1. Teresa, this legislation allows gays to be fired for what they do in their privacy of their bedrooms! Put yourself in their shoes. That is NOT protection! It’s time for “traditional” moral standards to include the gay community because, if you look around, you’ll find those in that community with strong moral standards, too.

  9. Teachers need to be teaching what is important and that is English, math the right way, and all other subjects. I am with NC! I wouldn’t want men in the bathroom with my daughters just because they decide that day they want to try being a woman and see what is going on in the bathrooms. This makes me sick. Who is to check on what is going on in there? Oh wait, maybe you would want to install cameras! People have gone totally nuts with this. I want my privacy when I use a restroom and not have to worry about some man in there or teen boys. This could actually develop health issues with girls not wanting to use the restrooms and hold it in. Go NC, you did the right thing, don’t let some others steer you to take it back. Schools also should never let boys/girls mix in the bathroom either, don’t they have enough problems. This is getting so out of hand.

    1. Doris, men just don’t “decide that day they want to try being a woman and see what is going on in the bathrooms.” That is absolutely one of THE most ridiculous statements I’ve ever read. This is getting out of hand, for one, because some people are not listening to what science is saying. Transgender people honestly feel they were born the wrong way, and if they can afford it, go to extreme measures to become who they were supposed to be all along. According to an April 2015 article in the New York Times, it’s estimated that only .3% of the population is transgendered. That’s not even half a percent, Doris. Since the Social Security Administration started in 1936, less than 136,000 people have changed their name to the opposite gender. And you also stand by NC when it’s taken away basic rights of the gay and lesbian community? So sad and discriminatory.

      1. How is disagreeing with this bathroom issue and being concerned for ones daughters in the restroom being “discriminatory”? Why is it that anytime someone has an opposing viewpoint on the transgender issue, they are called “haters”, “judgemental”, and “uneducated”?

  10. Kevin, if you get what you’re asking for, trans men, very masculine, muscular men, who happen to have been born with female genitalia, will be forced to use the restroom with your wife, daughter-in-law, mother…etc. A man, who looks like a man, will make the ladies room more uncomfortable for everyone involved than a trans woman, a woman who looks like a woman, and silently uses the restroom in a stall next to your wife. They just want to pee. They want to pee in a stall. Nobody’s privacy is at risk, except those forced to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate. Those at physical risk, are those who are forced, looking like a woman, perhaps with breasts, to use a mens room. It is a terrible law and your wife, etc. are not suffering any risk. Nor were they before the law. Trans women have used the ladies room before this ugly law, and your wife, etc. were never bothered by it because they didn’t know or think about it. This ugly law has made people think there is a threat, or a risk. Treat people with dignity. Nobody is showing their genitalia in the ladies room.

  11. I am a female and have a daughter,I do not wish to share a bathroom with a man and nor does my teenage daughter. What about protection of our rights? The democrats are always promoting a violation of women’s rights and this is a violation of rights for women. Maybe schools and businesses will have to start building in a 3rd bathroom for transgendered. Maybe if everyone has their own labeled bathroom they will finally feel equal.

    1. I agree with you Bobbie, but I don’t think we should spend any money on new bathrooms for the ones and few who really want to be the opposite sex. That is money away from education (but then again they are wasting all that education money on this freaking common core, which will further destroy our children) to build new bathrooms. Psychiatrists agree that it is a mental illness anyway, with parents pushing their children to be other than what they were born, and sometimes it’s a phase. But such families all want this to be an issue, demanding their rights and stealing the rights of others, they don’t care. Despicable! I know we will see new health issues rising because girls, women, teens, simply don’t want to use the restroom other than their homes.

    2. So how will you and your daughter feel when a bearded and muscular man is forced to use the women’s restroom because his birth certificate says “female”? Transmen who undergo hormone therapy, and maybe do some weightlifting, do NOT look like women in male costume.

      Here’s a more troubling conundrum: why would a pervert even have to dress as a woman to join you in the women’s restroom? He can just walk in, CLAIM to be a transman on hormone therapy–and how would you know if he’s lying? Why do you want people who look like men in your restroom at all?

      On the other hand, I suspect that when you think of transgender women, you picture drag queens: male performers in theatrical-ish women’s costume. Transwomen are not drag queens, and actual drag queens do not necessarily identify as transgender.

      If a young person identifies as transgender and has access to knowledgable medical support, he or she may begin treatment with hormones that simply delay the physical changes of puberty. In the case of a transgirl, her voice will not deepen and her face, hips and shoulders will not masculinize. If she later chooses to undergo further hormone therapy to effect a physical transition, she will NOT look like a man in women’s clothing. Does she belong in the men’s restroom just because her birth certificate says “male”? Really?

      What brutality might that transgirl face when she is required to use a high school boys’ restroom? Is that dynamic appropriate–for her OR for her male classmates? Really?

  12. My wife, mother, daughter in law, and many female friends do not want to share a bathroom with someone with a penis because they “think” they are a woman, or “associate” as a woman and I fully support them. Their right to privacy is at risk.

    1. Your wife, mother and daughter-in-law won’t even know and possibly already have shared space with a transgender female who unassumingly enters, uses a stall, and exits. On the other hand, a dress in the men’s room is likely to attract a lot more attention.

    2. I totally agree with you Kevin. Until men, boys, deal with what women deal with when it comes to bathroom issues, they have no right to enter that bathroom/restroom. I know my daughters would not use the restroom if men/teenboys would be allowed to use the same at the same time, that could bring on health issues.

    3. To Bobbie and Kevin: You’re assuming EVERY transgendered person is a sexual predator waiting to pounce. Talk about fear mongering and stereotyping!! In reality, this is a small segment of the population who in all liklihood just want to enjoy the same rights and privileges as the rest of us. The chance of you or your loved ones even being in a public restroom at the same moment is probably the same chance as getting struck by a lightning bolt. Don’t overreact.

      1. To Hans:
        My fear isn’t of the transgendered; its if the people who aren’t transgendered that would pretend to be. Talk about being naive, Hans….. Build a separate bathroom for all

        1. Bobbie, The predators have been around for generations too. People have been dealing with IF they encounter such a person. They haven’t suddenly multiplied and appeared. I respect your wish to use the bathroom unmolested. I think most people want to go without concern about privacy. I believe NC and MS have written laws that remove basic human and civil rights from a whole group of people for no real viable reason. If all you are worried about is the bathroom or locker room, then that is ALL the law needs to address. Even THAT is a stretch for the reasons stated above.

        2. The fact is that transgender people have been using the bathrooms of their gender identity since before HB2 was passed. If you really think about the scenario in which a nontransgender person takes advantage of the ordinance – that is “pretending” to be transgender – it defies logic. I’m a mother of 2 teenage daughters and I don’t have fear of this ordinance and I live in Charlotte. I have more fear of my daughters being assaulted by someone using a gun but that is never going to be a fear addressed by this legislature.

        3. Bobbie,
          And how often has that happened? NONE, ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH. You’re the naive one giving in to bigotry, fear, and hatred. Transgender people have been using the bathroom of their gender orientation for YEARS (like at least since the 1970s when I met someone transgendered) without a problem. Now religious bigots are making it an issue to hate others. What would Jesus do? He would not be a happy camper, I’ll tell you that! So how would you like to see a transgendered FTM with a full beard in the women’s room? That’s what this and other bills like it do.

    4. Kevin: how will your wife, mother, daughter-in-law and female friends even KNOW that the woman in the next stall has a penis, unless they have violated that woman’s right to privacy in the first place?

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