As discussed in my previous essay, the new Massachusetts' statutes will create increased distress and challenges for the gender-confused child and his or her family; the consequences, unfortunately, will not stop there. In fact, the Board's presumption that the claiming of different gendered status by a child's peer has a positive (or even neutral) effect on the others in the school - already being challenged by some parents and at least one council member - is naïve, at best.
The potential implications of the Board's policy for the well-being of schoolmates of the youth experiencing gender confusion are largely ignored. The statutes' mandate that peers must call transgender children by a new chosen name or preferred pronoun, and that they should be disciplined for failing to do so, is bound to create confusion in children who instinctively know that something is wrong when a dress-wearing boy calls himself a girl. Parents who raise their children in particular traditions (such as Judeo-Christian) which have strong and fundamental beliefs about such matters will have their authority undermined and could face increased difficulties providing proper formation of their children at home. Similarly, the mandate that schools must eliminate dress codes or classroom management strategies that divide children by gender, again denies the intuitive reality of other children who understand that boys and girls are different in specific ways.
The mandate further requires that transgender children must be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex, creating obvious potential for awkwardness, embarrassment and things possibly much worse. The mandate does contain language calling for some measures to ensure privacy, but how in the world would that be possible? Furthermore, the child whose belief system teaches the virtue of modesty and discretion with respect to such potentially-intimate circumstances apparently will have no right to object nor recourse if these experiences create an "obstacle to … educational opportunity" or cause boys who are boys and girls who are girls to feel unsafe or unsupported. In a world where all differences are leveled, one can only imagine how the school board might address a complaint filed by the parents of a daughter whose male classmate (claiming transgenderism) is now sharing her locker room:
"Dear Guardian, we appreciate the concern you have expressed respecting the minor in your custodial care during non-school hours. Please understand our policies are designed to raise the self-esteem of these gender-questioning members of our varied student body, and are in full accord with Massachusetts' law. This law also recommends your daughter's perspective on such matters be broadened, and we trust in your full understanding and support."
Sadly, the mandates do not end in the classroom. Schools must allow children to play on sports teams according to the gender with which they personally identify. See any problems here? Fairness, safety? How about the 200 lb boy who experiences his gender as female, and wants to play on the girls' lacrosse team? Or the promising but late developing girl who is cut from her varsity team to allow for a gender confused boy to play? Well, not to worry. It's not as if college athletic scholarships are at stake here. Oh… wait...
Underlying these concerns is the erosion of parents' fundamental right to be the primary educators of their children. Unlike some sex education initiatives - which are problematic for many reasons in their own right - that offer an "opt out" choice for parents, the Massachusetts regulation allows for no parental input in this regard. (The statute does allow parents of "younger" students to advocate for them identifying as transgender, but not for older children/adolescence who choose for themselves; problematically, if children are not confused about their gender, their parents cannot prevent them from being embroiled in the circumstances).
Consequently, the legislators' intent of removing "obstacles …to enjoying equal educational opportunities" for "all" children, in reality, disrupts the vast majority of students entrusted to their care, and cuts parents out of the equation entirely. It is worth noting, that even in schools where no child is requesting the above-mentioned exceptions, teachers and students are still expected to learn and embrace the flawed premise underlying the initiative. In disregarding biology and genetics, natural law, and the Biblical teaching that man was created male and female (Gn 1), these statutes move beyond a mere academic debate respecting the truth about the person and his sexuality to mandate a system which may damage the lives and potential for flourishing of many in the next generation.
At the core of the issue is a misunderstanding of how best to accomplish the intent of the statute: that gender confused children should be treated kindly and fairly. Unfortunately, the statutes' attempt to do so by legislating a form of equality that violates the reality of who these people truly are. No matter how much we may want kindheartedly to offer gender choices where confusion exists, to do so is neither kind nor just. Kindness and justice must be based on truth, not an artificial, one-size-fits-all type of equality that in fact denies genuine differences. Because we are all created differently (though with equivalent and indisputable dignity), mandating equality in the manner suggested is neither realistic nor helpful. Children struggling in this manner must be treated with dignity and respect, but, nonetheless, also have to follow the same healthy rules (pronoun identification, bathroom use in accord with their genital gender, play on sports teams, among others) as everyone else. This is the only way in which the safety and support of all children can truly be protected.
Male and female He created them.
Variety may be the spice of life, but only two genders lead to health and flourishing. Massachusetts, let's keep it that way - for everyone's sake.