Monday, May 16, 2016

INTOLERANCE IN AMERICA - Transgender Bathroom Access

"The lines are drawn in national debate over transgender bathroom access" PBS NewsHour 5/13/2016


SUMMARY:  The Obama administration's new directive that all public schools should allow transgender students access to restrooms that correspond with their gender has intensified a nationwide fight over the issue.  For more on the reaction to the order and its possible impact, Hari Sreenivasan talks to Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom and Alex Myers of Phillips Exeter Academy.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  I'm joined by two people who have been involved on both sides of this issue.

Alex Myers is an English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, a private school in New Hampshire.  He's also an author and speaks frequently about gender identity.  He's transgender, came out in high school and was the first openly transgender student to attend Harvard.  And Jeremy Tedesco is senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a faith-based legal advocacy group.  It represents several groups of parents that oppose allowing students to use school bathrooms based on gender identity.

Alex, let me start with you.

Why is this so significant to you?

ALEX MYERS, Teacher, Phillips Exeter Academy:  This is really a moment of recognition that is unparalleled.

I think the transgender community has been existing at the margins not only of mainstream society, but also in some ways of the LGBT community.  And President Obama's and Loretta Lynch's statement earlier this week really bring us out of the shadows and into the mainstream.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Jeremy Tedesco, your organization is involved in two different lawsuits in Chicago and in North Carolina to try to prevent these types of policies from rolling out.

Are there a lot of students not transgender who are trying to go into the other bathrooms, so to speak?  I mean, why is this a step too far?

JEREMY TEDESCO, Alliance Defending Freedom:  Well, I really appreciate you having us on.  And I'm glad we can be on PBS and have a civil discourse about this whole issue.

The reality is, ADF, Alliance Defending Freedom, where I work, has been pushing out policies to school districts for several years now, policies that are promote a compassionate alternative that meets the needs of every student at the school.

So, our policy says students who for whatever reason are uncomfortable using the locker room or shower or restroom designated for their biological sex should be given alternative facilities, single-stall facilities or whatever is available at the school.  Almost all schools have those available.

But they shouldn't allow the privacy rights of other students to be violated in providing those accommodations.  There's interests, rights on both sides of the equation in the bathroom and locker room contexts.  Students have an expectation of privacy in those facilities.

And the Obama administration is completely trampling those rights by directing schools to just let students of one sex into the locker rooms and restrooms of students of the other sex.

"Transgender bathroom battle goes national with Obama school directive" PBS NewsHour 5/13/2016


SUMMARY:  Amid the national furor over North Carolina's bathroom bill, the Departments of Justice and Education on Friday issued a joint directive to all public schools to allow transgender students the use of restrooms that match their gender identity.  Although noncompliance could cost states billions in federal aid, some conservative lawmakers have already vowed to defy the order.  Judy Woodruff reports.

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