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Transitioning Public Schools

Carl Trueman posts a letter he sent to his local Pennsylvania public school system, objecting to its plans to renovate its policies to make them more transgender-friendly. Excerpts:

While the issues it raises are clearly pressing, and while the welfare of all students, regardless of identity, has to be a priority, the proposed policy is conceptually incoherent. On the one hand, it asserts that a student’s asserted gender identity has to be accepted, and must not be questioned or disregarded by staff. Moreover, the only exception is if staff have a “credible basis” for believing the student is “improperly” asserting a gender identity, vague and undefined terms that are open to abuse. Yet, the policy also claims that a student’s transgender status may constitute confidential medical information that should not be disclosed to parents or others, suggesting it is a medical condition. Which is it?

Further, is the school really saying that it has the right, duty, and indeed the competence to hide a child’s identity from its parents? This is a breathtaking assertion of authority—to claim that the school has a greater right relative to a child’s identity than the parents who have raised him or her. It also creates a dangerous precedent: so long as the school district in its infinite wisdom decides that something is part of a child’s core identity, it grants to itself the right to exclude parents. This is remarkably open-ended and adversarial, pitting the school district against parents and scarcely conducive to cultivating co-operative school-parent relationships which are surely to be desired in a rounded education.

This is shocking. The school probably has to get parental permission to give a Tylenol to their kid, but it reserves the right to hide from parents whether or not their child is presenting himself as transgender at school? Really? (Yes, really; check the policy out for yourself.)

More from Carl Trueman’s protest letter to his local school board:

Under this policy, students must be allowed to participate in PE classes, intramural sports, and (to the extent consistent with PIAA regulations) interscholastic athletics consistent with their asserted gender identity. This approach is clearly going to have a detrimental effect on girls’/women’s competitions and in the long run will put those women who are born such and identify as such at a permanent competitive disadvantage (as indicated by the recent incoherent attempt to produce fair and consistent regulations for transgender Olympic competition while safeguarding competitiveness). My son, for example, ran track for the University of Pennsylvania where he was a moderately good middle distance runner. Were he to identify as a woman, he would currently hold the world mile record. This is a policy which is really very detrimental to women and the future of women’s sports.

Read the whole thing. The policy also gives transgenders access to the locker room of their choice.

This is so radical as to have been unthinkable only the day before yesterday. And yet it’s happening in a quiet, old-fashioned Philadelphia suburb. I used to live right next to it. Gay is one thing, but transgender? Is it really the case that parents, especially parents of girls, don’t object? Do they agree with these policies, or do they just not care to complain? Feminists don’t care that biological males with greater body strength are putting biological women at a distinct disadvantage in athletic competition?

Are we really adopting policies so radical to accommodate only 0.03 percent of the population? Yes, we are. And here’s the thing: the Springfield Township School Board may well be against all this, but the U.S. Government, under the way the Obama Administration has decided to apply Title IX, is not giving them a choice. 

I’m not exactly clear on the extent to which the feds are enforcing Title IX against public schools. I know the Department of Education has said that it considers transgenders protected under Title IX, and that this includes giving trans kids access to the locker room of their choice. But I don’t know the extent of this rule, and whether it now applies to athletics. Please enlighten me. This could well be the Springfield Township school board’s idea of both conforming to federal demands, and/or getting out ahead of what they know is coming.

Just so you know, this is what you get now when you elect Democrats to national office.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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