Bullies

by Dan Quinn

DanPatrickIt’s hard to imagine a more disgraceful demonstration of ignorance, fear-mongering and bullying. That’s what we’re seeing as one of the state’s highest elected officials joins with religious-right groups in demanding that the Fort Worth Independent School District rescind a policy allowing transgender students to use the restroom in peace.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, with plans to speak at a Fort Worth ISD Board of Trustees meeting today, is demanding that the district’s superintendent resign for approving a policy allowing transgender students to use restrooms that are appropriate to their gender identity. He’s joining religious-right groups that call the new policy “dangerous.”

Dangerous? What in the world do they think is going to happen? That boys who aren’t transgender are suddenly going to start pretending and dressing like girls just so they can get into their restrooms? Who really thinks that’s a realistic scenario? Patrick wants you to think he does:

“Campus safety should be of paramount concern for anyone in his position. Every parent, especially those of young girls, should be outraged.”

The man is shameless.

Neither Lt. Gov. Patrick nor anyone else opposed to the Fort Worth policy has been able to point to real examples of individuals using such anti-discrimination laws (which are on the books in 17 states and more than 200 cities) to harass or assault people in public restrooms.

In addition, the district’s policy requires school officials “to acknowledge the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.” And students who are uncomfortable using a restroom with a transgender student (if they even know the student is transgender) must have the option of using a different restroom.

But opponents make their hatefulness even clearer with other objections. Religious-right groups like Concerned Women for America and the vicious anti-LGBT group Texas Values are also angry that the district’s policy requires school officials to keep the transgender status of students private. That’s right — these hateful bullies are actually angry that the district supports the personal dignity of transgender students and wants to protect them from public ridicule, shaming or worse at the hands of hateful people.

This twisted, despicable “bathroom” campaign isn’t about protecting girls in restrooms, of course. It’s about Lt. Gov. Patrick and religious-right groups using fear-mongering to stigmatize and bully children who are different. And it’s about using irrational fear to promote a divisive political agenda that is hostile to treating every person — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — with equality, dignity and respect.

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