24 May

Speaking at a Council on Women and Girls event back in 2014, President Obama declared "You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls." At that same event, Vice-President Biden avowed that “Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right”. Ironically it is now Biden’s Title IX 9 ruling that threatens the privacy, safety and dignity of our girls and young women. The district’s gender inclusion policies for staff and students are a dangerous reflection of this ruling - they disregard protections for privacy and safeguards against sexual assault, and enable weaponization and discrimination against staff and students of faith.

Title IX clearly states that sex-separate bathroom and locker rooms are not discriminatory. The notion that a gender-confused or gender-curious student can be directed to use a gender-neutral facility is actually not discrimination. But don’t take my word for it, listen to what the ruling states on page 1269: 

A recipient must provide access to sex-separate facilities, including bathrooms, in a manner that does not cause more than de minimis harm. Section 106.31(a)(2) does not specify how a recipient must provide access to sex-separate facilities for students who do not identify as male or female. For nonbinary students, a recipient may, for example, coordinate with the student, and the student’s parent or guardian as appropriate, to determine how to best provide the student with safe and nondiscriminatory access to facilities. 

Gender-confused students may prefer to access gender-neutral facilities for privacy, or would have to show that accessing these facilities actually cause more than minimal harm or inconvenience. And as Board member Korman stated, there are only about 1 in 150 students with non-conforming genders, so inconvenience can hardly be an issue. 

Opening up girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms to unfettered access to any gender is an open invitation to sexual assault, as evidenced by countless documented bathroom sexual assaults and a 2023 CDC study showing that at least 18% of teen girls are victims of sexual assault. Why would the school board even consider policies that are guaranteed to increase this risk?

It should not be the responsibility of students to figure out if a male, or someone presenting as male, should be in the girl’s bathroom. Girls should be able to report the situation without fear of retaliation. If not, then girls need to be allowed to carry and deploy personal safety and non-lethal self-defense devices. The policies need to have specific safeguards, not just punt to school staff and hope they can figure out how to prevent the unthinkable. And as we are all aware, the unthinkable can happen anywhere. Just ask Hudson, WI where an elementary teacher is accused of sexually abusing a 5th grader. Even closer to home, a beloved Eden Prairie social studies teacher was recently convicted of child grooming. 

The gender policies also violate religious freedoms by compelling staff and students to use pronouns that run counter to their beliefs on human sexuality. Imagine requiring students to call another student “Unicorn” when clearly unicorns do not exist. How will this policy prevent staff from weaponizing this policy to punish students that do not use certain pronouns due to sincerely held religious beliefs?

The gender inclusion polices are deeply flawed and lack basic protections for staff and student safety and religious beliefs. The board needs to make significant revisions and get robust community feedback, rather than rush forward in a reckless hurry. There is too much at stake. No amount of money or apologies that can redress the harm done to girls and young women that will occur with the proposed policies.

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