Monday, April 18, 2022

Parents urge Stillwater School Board to change policy allowing male students to use girl's bathrooms


During the public-comment portion of the April 12 meeting of the Stillwater Board of Education, many parents urged the district to change its policy allowing transgender students—males who identify as female—to use the girls’ bathrooms.

Several mothers noted their own experience as adolescents, stressing that girls face significant emotional challenges during puberty that will only be made worse if they are forced to share bathroom spaces with males.

“As a biological female, my experience as a pre-teen and teenager entering puberty was confusing, and definitely different than my biological male counterparts,” said Julia Ray, a mother of three students in the Stillwater district. “I made great efforts to hide when I was menstruating out of fear of being made fun of by boys. The restroom and the locker rooms were places where I knew there was no chance a boy would know what I was doing.”

She recalled being “harassed” by boys and noted the school’s bathroom policy would allow boys to simply claim to be transgender and gain access to girls’ bathrooms to target female students.

Other women speaking before the board raised similar concerns.

“This is opening the door for all kinds of abuse to happen,” said Kim Chaffin. “I know. I was a victim of sexual assault in middle school. I had boys assault me in a hallway in the school in front of a lot of people. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I had been in a locker room or a bathroom. You cannot undo an assault that has already happened. Women need safe, private places.”

Tina Smith recalled being an “awkward” youth who struggled socially.

“As a young woman figuring out how to deal with my cycle, the cramps, spotting, heavy days when more than one sanitary napkin was required, bleeding through my clothes, there was more than enough pressure from my peers without adding a boy to the bathroom or locker-room experience,” Smith said.

Delicia Timmons said her 13-year-old daughter does not use the school bathroom all day “because she doesn’t feel safe, and that’s not from hating anyone. We don’t hate the other kids. She just doesn’t feel safe and doesn’t feel that, I guess, her privacy is protected.”

Ryan Smith indicated that while Stillwater’s bathroom policy may have been enacted out of a perceived effort to be kind to transgender youth, it could actually incentivize those youth to take other actions they will ultimately regret.

Smith noted research indicates 85 percent to 90 percent of students who experience gender dysphoria and identify as transgender no longer do so after the conclusion of puberty. But, he noted, many such youth are currently being pushed to embrace permanent treatments that have lifelong consequences, including hormone injections and major surgeries.

“Youth who begin hormone therapy are at an increased risk for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers, and are left with life-altering physical deformities, sterilization, and escalating states of depression,” Smith said.

While individuals who identify as transgender are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person, Smith noted those individuals are 19 times more likely to commit suicide after completing transition surgery

While district officials have indicated court rulings and guidance from the Biden administration require the school to allow all youth to access bathroom facilities based on students’ self-identified gender identities, critics noted most rulings cited by district officials are from courts that do not have jurisdiction in Oklahoma, and a U.S. Supreme Court case cited by Stillwater officials explicitly states that it does not address the issue of bathroom and locker-room access.

Critics also noted that federal guidance has changed repeatedly. For the first seven years of the Obama administration, bathroom access was based on biological access, then the administration declared that gender identity was the controlling factor, then the Trump administration reversed guidance to again state that biology was the controlling factor, and now the Biden administration has changed federal guidance again.

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