Thursday, October 8, 2015

School restrooms bill is derived from ignorance and misinformation

Rep. Jesse Kremer's proposal seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist

Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) seems to believe that accommodations to transgender students represents a considerable threat to their peers. His fears are greatly misplaced.

Kremer is proposing a bill that would limit the rights of local school districts to grant transgender students the dignity to use restrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with. The lawmaker apparently disregards gender identity and is more preoccupied with anatomy to care about what’s best for students overall.

His words towards those students are especially alarming. (Emphasis in bold added)
I don't see why they'd [transgender students] like to make a big stink about it. If you're making a big deal about it ... you obviously are inviting harassment and bullying already.
Bullying and mistreatment of transgender students, it seems to Kremer, is the fault of those students themselves. His comments echo other examples of closed-minded individuals choosing to blame the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence or harassment.

Kremer also believes that policies aimed at accommodating these students, like one implemtned in Madison, pose incredible harm to others. “This opens up a real good window for sexual predators if they want to take advantage of it,” he said.

But the evidence doesn’t back up his rhetoric. In schools across the nation, policies are being enacted that open up restrooms to students who correspond with a gender that wasn’t assigned to them at birth. And the results thus far are positive.

“In school district after school district after school district, officials reported no problems as a result of their transgender non-discrimination policies,” Media Matters reports. Their research tasked them with contacting 17 different school districts that represented more than 600,000 students across 12 states in the country. Not one of them reported any issues of privacy concerns for other students.

More often than not, the only harassment that does occur in the schools is directed toward transgender students themselves. That’s the whole point of accommodating them -- three-quarters of transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school, and six in ten have reported being denied use of the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Rep. Kremer claims that the bill he’s proposing derived from an incident in his home district where a transgender student, born with female anatomy but identifying as a male, used boys restrooms. But there is no indication that the actions of this student resulted in harassment of any kind from kids pretending to be transgender just to sneak into the other restrooms. Kremer's fears are unwarranted, and undocumented.

It may make some people who are unfamiliar with it uncomfortable, but transgender students deserve to be treated as the gender they identify with. There’s scant evidence of any issues with such policies elsewhere in our state, nor anywhere else in the country for that matter. Even if there were, why punish the transgender youth? Since when do we punish the needs of some students because of what the actions of others might be?

Furthermore, this legislation tramples upon local government decisions, an ideal Republicans supposedly stand behind. As the liberal group One Wisconsin Now points out, “It’s worse than big government -- it’s Big Brother.”

Kremer should do the decent thing and withdraw this horrible piece of legislation. He’s ignorant on the subject, which is evident in his own admission that he never spoke to anyone who identifies as transgender on the subject before he wrote his bill.

You’d think that someone in the legislature would do their homework before preparing to impose a law restricting local school districts from crafting their own policies. But that’s just part for the course when it comes to Wisconsin Republicans like Rep. Jesse Kremer.

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