Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies and Real Life Consequences
By Peggy Browning
Please allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you about the real life consequences of public school transgender bathroom policies.
I taught for 16 years in Texas public schools. The last two years were spent as home-bound education coordinator for a school system with an enrollment of 14,000+ students. My job was to teach students who were unable to attend school due to health reasons including cancer, mononucleosis, surgery, broken bones, bone marrow transplants, mental health issues, and various other causes. A physician prescribed placement to home-bound instruction if the illness was determined to impede the student’s ability to attend school on campus.
In 2010, the Texas Education Agency allowed students up to four hours per week of home-bound instruction. A teacher goes to the student’s home or to an appointed meeting place and provides four hours of direct instruction. Usually that instruction time was divided in two 2-hour periods two times per week.
It is the home-bound teacher’s responsibility to gather all work from other teachers and the child’s campus and help the student do the assigned work. The teacher then acts as a liaison between the campus and the student and returns the work, etc. to the original teacher who then grades and records the result and assigns grades for the time period whether it is a semester, a six weeks period, nine weeks or whatever.
So…a student was assigned to me for home-bound services. A junior high student…with problems other than physical ailments. This student was transgender and was causing a kerfuffle about using the restroom.
The student, who I will call Charlie, had other issues, like an un-diagnosed learning disability, anxiety, and being a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Those issues alone were enough to create problems for the kid. Unfortunately, lots of kids have those same issues.
However, the one issue that set Charlie apart and adrift from the public school system was being transgender.
Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies
Charlie was in 8th grade and wore skirts, cute shoes, and make-up and had a great hair-do. Charlie identified in every way as a female, except one: genitalia. Charlie had a penis, so was expected to use the boys’ restroom.
And that, along with other things, caused a shit storm at the junior high.
Charlie was assigned to the special school for emotionally disturbed kids where students received counseling and attended small classes with specially trained teachers. But Charlie couldn’t stay there forever due to funding and insurance and budget cuts and all that stuff.
And Charlie couldn’t return to the junior high campus because the tide had already turned there and Charlie wasn’t really welcome any more. There were too many problems with bullying and bathrooms and dress code violations.
So, Charlie became my student and we had a great time twice a week trying to learn basic geometry and the fricking Pythagorean theorem. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but we talked a lot about life. And about being different. And about being OK with yourself. And about God loving you for who you are…because if you believe in God, you have to believe that God made you that way.
And if you believe only in DNA, then you have to believe your DNA made you that way. Either way, you have to accept yourself whether other people accept you or not.
But here is another major issue that Charlie and I faced…
You don’t get a lot of education in four hours per week… even with a fantastic teacher like me.
The Consequences of Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies
The consequences of the public school transgender bathroom policies brouhaha at the school district resulted in Charlie basically being denied a FAPE … a Free Appropriate Public Education, which is the legal right of every student who is attending a public school in every single state in the United States.
So, school districts across ‘Mureca…get your act together and decide how everyone on campus can use the bathroom in peace and harmony.
It is your legal obligation to provide the Free Appropriate Public Education that is due each and every child no matter whether they sit down or stand up to pee.
And while you’re looking at those requirements, you need to examine the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, too. No matter how you classify a student, everyone has the right to use the restroom at school.
And for my dear friend and lovely human being, Charlie…this one is just for you. I believe that United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch is looking out for your best interests.