In olden days, a glimpse of stocking/ Was looked on as something shocking./ But now, God knows,/ Anything goes./ Good authors too who once knew better words/ Now only use four-letter words/ Writing prose./ Anything goes. ? Cole Porter, 1934
Liberals used to preach that the welfare of society must take precedent over the desires, inclinations and even rights of any given individual.
But now, if someone wants to drive on the left side of the road, who are we to disdain? Accommodate.
If a tone-deaf kazoo player wishes to join the philharmonic on stage, why should we hesitate? Accommodate.
Earlier this fall, the Elko County School Board refused to allow a 13-year-old girl who ?identifies? as a boy to use the boys? restrooms in her middle school, but continued to allow her to use a unisex restroom, according to an Elko Daily Free Press account.
The meeting at which the decision was made was packed with parents who heard the mother of the child in question argue, ?My son has the right to live his life as a boy.?
The mother said her child is bullied every day, and ? contorting reason beyond recognition ? seemed to attribute this to her daughter not being allowed to use the boys? restroom.
The board refused the mother?s request, despite the fact the state Legislature this past spring passed Senate Bill 504, an anti-bullying law which prohibits ?blocking access? to ?any property or facility of a school? on the basis of sex, gender identity or expression or any other distinguishing characteristic.
I warned in this column at the time the law was bound to create problems and controversy.
?One of the law?s unintended consequences, at least we hope it was unintended, appears to be a prohibition of gender segregation ? as in restrooms, locker rooms and showers,? I wrote, noting specifically that the law prohibits ?blocking access? to school due to gender identity.
Assemblyman John Ellison, who voted against SB504, told the Elko board that standards should be set to support all students. ?We should consider the privacy of all 9,526 students, not just the four transgender ones,? he was quoted as saying.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, who voted in favor of the bill, told the board, ?Had I known the provisions for (the bill), I would never have voted for it.?
Within a week of the Elko board?s vote, it was notified by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada that it was looking into the board?s action concerning the ?transgender? child and might take legal action against the district over its bathroom discrimination.
The ACLU letter specifically cited SB504 and argued that denying a transgender student access to a bathroom of choice could ?create an intimidating or hostile educational environment for the pupil.? It also said forcing ?a humiliating ?accommodation? of a third restroom? is ?detrimental? to the youth.
Accommodation for one, but not for the rest of the students?
Now there?s a word we don?t hear too often, but that is the word invoked by Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Family Alliance, which unsuccessfully advocated a bill to ban transgender students from gender segregated facilities and also opposed SB504.
?Simply put, modesty is not hate,? she wrote recently on this topic. ?We can and should have compassion for those that are uncomfortable in traditional sex separated bathrooms. But our compassion for them should not be abused. They must also show compassion for those that would be uncomfortable if bathrooms and locker rooms were no longer sex separated. And we should all condemn the tired tactic of accusing our ideological opponents of hate.?
Though SB504 does not impose criminal sanctions, it could lead to students being expelled and teachers and administrators being fired if they ?tolerate? any kind of bullying.
Frankly, anyone with a modicum of common sense, practical experience and logic should realize that giving free access to gender segregated restrooms, locker rooms and showers to anyone at the slightest whim or expression of gender confusion is not an anti-bullying measure at all, but an invitation to serious trouble, even violence, and an invasion of privacy that will create a chaos in which learning will be all but impossible.
Lawmakers created the opposite of what they intended.
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at email@example.com. He also blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.