Elko trans decision
When social conservatives get to the question of gay rights, it seems the argument always winds up in the toilet.
Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said recently, “I wish when I was in high school someone had told me I could have felt like a woman and showered with the girls in PE. I am sure I would have found my feminine side and said ’Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’”
Huckabee’s teenage fantasy life may have consisted of constantly devising schemes to sneak into the girls’ locker room. But the supposedly grave issue of transgender use of public school bathrooms has made it into Congress, a federal court in Virginia, and has rocked California politics for several years. In September, it appeared in Elko when a transgender female-to-male 13-year-old objected to having to use a unisex bathroom and instead, with his parents, demanded his legal right to use the male restroom.
At the September 29 hearing, three Republican legislators, John Ellison, Ira Hansen and Jim Wheeler, appeared at the school district meeting to urge denial of the accommodation. They said they were concerned about the rights of the other students at the high school. They claimed that parents were concerned that allowing the transgender child to relieve himself in the boys’ restroom would upset their children. They even said they were worried harm may come to the student himself.
It seems like suddenly, when it comes to school restrooms, conservatives want a “safe space” as badly as the liberal anti-micro-aggression crowd wants them.
The students who attend Spring Creek Middle School appear to have no deep-seated anxieties. The kids were “cool” with it. It was the adults who raised a ruckus, not the kids. While there is certainly some bullying of transgender people in Elko, teens there were not upset about it until the parents started talking to them. Parents are always concerned about their teens’ sexuality, and it appears that the incident was parent-driven, not student-driven. The students simply did not believe that the boy’s motivation was surreptitious. Unlike Huckabee, they understood he simply wanted to do what nature demands with those he identified with, and not be segregated to a unisex accommodation.
That does not bode well for social conservatives. One-third of millenials identify as something other than straight heterosexual. They may not all vote this election, but the future will only be more accepting of individual gender rights. Nevada has already ruled, for example, that insurance companies have to pay for gender disphoria treatments appropriately, so long as the procedures are similar to those utilized by heterosexuals.
The Elko school board bowed to pressure, and denied the student’s application to use the boys’ room.
However, it is good to remember that social conservatives like Hansen, Wheeler and Ellison helped to provide another viable option in Nevada for parents of transgender students—school choice. Public schools were originally called common schools. They are a commons, and therefore offer limited property rights. There may be legislated “legal rights.” but sometimes, as in Elko, rights can be hard to enforce. When school choice is allowed, parents can look for a better environment for their child than the common schools can provide. Some parents in Nevada have already placed their transgender children in alternative schools that are more than willing to relax a bathroom code or two to accommodate them. Individual choice in education and a lot more is the future that conservatives and liberals alike will need to embrace-or lose voters.