I woke up later than usual today.
After making a cup of my favorite coffee, taking the dog for a little walk, and then sitting down in front of my computer, I check my email. The first message I click on is from my best friend who lives in another state and has no idea of what's been going on over the past couple of days. When her email opens, I see this huge sparkling teddy bear holding a big bouquet of flowers with a message underneath it that reads: "Be Kinder Than Necessary For Everyone Is Fighting Their Own Battles In Life." I can't help but become emotional because it's been quite a stressful past few days.
I believe that this entire #transgender issue has gotten completely out of hand.
Could I have asked the question differently so that it came across more neutral and not so specific? Yes. Would this false and misleading accusation of me "calling out" a student and being falsely labeled a "bully" still present itself? I answer myself, yes. This wasn't happening in any other Warwick public school other than Pilgrim HS. There is also no other transgender student who has been allowed access to the locker room of the opposite sex of whom they identify with in a Warwick public school. Or is there? Who knows? So, I think to myself, if I had asked the question differently and stated "a transgender student at a Warwick public school has been allowed access to the girls locker room resulting in other girls feeling uncomfortable", would that still qualify as me as "singling out" a student vs. singling out the situation? I answer myself again, yes...to divert away from the issue.
The post was to bring attention to a situation, not to any specific transgender student that had already gone public about "coming out" and is a very brave individual for having done so. Facebook made the decision to take down my post because it violated its terms. I will abide by the terms of Facebook, but this blog is on my terms. It's unfortunate that my question was so grossly misinterpreted because it distracts from the main issue at hand.
Some have stated it was irresponsible and unprofessional of me to make this so public. I think to myself, what about the irresponsibility and lack of professionalism that occurred within a Warwick public school? The announcement of a transgender student being given access to the girls locker room at Pilgrim HS came from a Facebook post. Is that responsible and professional? Was a Tile IX coordinator specifically assigned to this situation? Were students and parents made aware of any specific policy initiatives and/or guidelines specifically enacted that outlined transgender accommodations? Were the necessary privacy protections put in place to protect all students?
Should we wait for a dad to get a text message from his daughter asking if something is okay to be happening and she doesn't feel comfortable? (Chariho regional).
Do we wait for a potential high school "walk-out" as the students did in Chicago against a transgender student, Lila Perry, who was given access to the girls locker room in which the story made national news? The teen girls in that high school were uncomfortable and yet once again, their discomfort was termed "bigotry".
Do we wait for fifty families to come together and file a law suit against a school district as is the case in Illinois right now? Do we wait for a transgender student to file a lawsuit against a school district over its restrictive bathroom policy, as is the case right now in the state of Virginia?
This is a very big deal and no one should be intimidated or afraid to question it.
Gender identity, gender expression, transgender, transition, gender non-conforming... Whatever happened to just being a kid? What happened to just being, without having all of these labels put upon you? As I read the different gender identity definitions, the words that stand out to me are: gender, psychological, characteristic, expression, tradition, identifying, stereotypes... But what I don't see is: sex, hormones, chromosomes, sex organs and any mention of the "Birds and the Bees."
I can remember as far back as when I was around the age of five. I played outside with the other kids, built forts and really loved my Weebles Tree House ( it was my favorite). I recall being heartbroken because my dad didn't take me fishing when he went alone with my brother, my brother destroying all of my dolls because I liked playing with his cars and trucks, and jumping on the back of the neighborhood bully to stop him from beating up on my little brother.
As a young teen, around age 13/14, I remember taking our 4- wheelers into the power lines, my brother teaching me how to ride his dirt bike and going target shooting in the woods with my brother's pellet gun. In high school I remember I always preferred to change in the girls locker room behind a curtain. The girls were very cliquey and there was bullying. I never bullied another kid, in fact, I stood up for them. Someone asked me if I was ever bullied in school as a kid. I was. I still clearly remember who those girls were and what their names are. I never had a problem defending myself though, and to experience it only made me stronger. Never in my life have I wished intentional harm to anyone. I'm not sure what label there is today that would have been placed on me then, but all I know is I was just me, and I did what I liked to do, and no one was putting any of us under a microscope. That was my generation. Growing up in the 70's and 80's.
Teenager's hormones are raging, there's a lot of confusion, a lot of drama, a lot of questions and emotions are skyrocketing. Some kids may not have the right guidance at home. Some kids may not be getting the necessary attention they need. In my opinion, it is irresponsible to put a stamp on something and just label it without making sure that it is thoroughly understood. Who are we as adults to allow any student to be put in any situation that they may feel uncomfortable or intimidated by without taking the time to make sure all of their needs are taken into full consideration? Who are we as a society to just wave this dismissive wand that mandates a "take it or leave it" situation without ensuring the proper guidance, understanding, thorough evaluation, education and policies are put in place to protect the rights and privacies of all students? What about full transparency with parents?
I believe the safety, privacy and respect for all students should be at the forefront of anything we do as a community. Government should not be dictating what is in the best interests of children. Parents, teachers, students and clinicians should be the ones making the decisions for our kids, not the feds. I believe all students, LGBTQ & S deserve equal protection, privacy and respect in school, and that it is incumbent on us as the adults to make sure that happens, responsibly.
As I finish up with my thoughts here, I just received an email back from one of my very best friends in response to the question I asked her earlier regarding how she would feel as a parent if her daughter was put in a situation that made her feel uncomfortable. My friend's response, and oh! by the way, she is very liberal, and we love and respect each other even if we disagree, and we listen to each other's point of view to find that "middle ground" of understanding on issues we disagree over.
"Times are changing and schools should create a unisex area for specific transgender cases. They are the extreme minority of the population. They shouldn't be in danger, but the conventional set up should not be bent for the very few who feel uncomfortable. If they are surgically altered and have gone through extensive psychological evaluation and testing, then it's far more legitimate. But not for any individual who may not be sure, or has not met the criteria I just mentioned. They can go to a unisex or family bathroom (single) stall if they feel unsafe."
I couldn't agree with her more.
Lastly, there have been some pretty terrible things said about me which include using specific media sources as references to character assassinate me. Those media sources are extremely biased, misleading, dishonest and politically motivated. Some of the very worst people I have ever encountered in my life are those that are threatened by me, intimidated by me, and those that don't want their deceit to be revealed. These individuals include politicians, certain media outlets ( in collusion with a political agenda) and even activists, who I think are very vile human beings. These individuals perpetuate intolerance and divisiveness and unfortunately, there are those that read the garbage they put out, and are easily mislead by their false narrative.