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Challenging Some Assumptions in the Gender Debate

Some rather essential questions seem to keep getting lost in the ongoing national debate over who can and should have access to what have traditionally been recognized as men’s and women’s locker rooms, shower facilities, and restrooms. For instance:

What is the purpose of having separate, private facilities?

Clearly, these areas have a purpose – else more of us would have less hesitations about stripping down in front of … well, anybody.

However tolerant we profess to want to be, most of us do have hesitations. Something deep in our DNA seems to understand intuitively that some things are personal; that undressing in front of others – even others of the same sex – is usually embarrassing for them as well as ourselves, particularly in our high-school years. And undressing with others of the opposite sex is out of the question.

If a certain vulnerability is required, to deal with the call of nature in public settings, then the least we can do is limit that vulnerability to areas designated for people who most resemble ourselves … i.e., men and boys with men and boys, women and girls with women and girls. And, by “resemble,” we mean those who are like us in the biological sense.

But comes this new social wave, which insists that men should be able to stroll into women’s facilities, and vice versa … provided these men (or these women) “identify,” in this particular moment, with the opposite sex. And, we’re told, if identifying grown-ups should be able to strip down in front of each other, certainly identifying children should be able to do so, too.

That’s not the case in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. This week, a judge is weighing evidence and merits involving a federal lawsuit filed by four Boyertown high school students, two girls and two boys, one of whom was standing in his underwear in the boys’ locker room when he looked up to see a similarly unclad girl standing nearby.

The boy told school officials what had happened; they told him to “tolerate it.” The girl, they said, was perfectly within her rights – they were now letting certain students decide for themselves which locker room they’d prefer to use. If he and the other boys had a problem with that, it was up to them to make sharing a locker room with a girl seem as “natural” as possible.

Curiously, administrators had never mentioned that change of policy to the students as a whole, nor to their parents … perhaps because the policy violates federal and state privacy laws.

But then, as government authorities across the country have made clear, the issue here isn’t protecting the privacy of children or adults. It’s about indulging and affirming – for mostly political purposes – those who “identify” as the opposite sex.

Which raises another assumption worth questioning: why do the desires of those with gender dysphoria trump the needs of the community?

The needs of other children who are understandably uncomfortable with this turning upside-down of everything they’ve ever known and been taught about privacy and appropriate behavior?

The needs of parents who know their children’s sensitivities, and don’t want to see them embarrassed or unnerved or confused by this sudden on-a-dime reversal of social norms?

No one on any side of this debate is seriously suggesting that children struggling with their biological sex shouldn’t also have privacy. In fact, ADF and many others have been actively advocating for compassionate solutions that respect the privacy of all students.

In fact, setting aside the urgency of the relentless media spotlights and the noisy impatience of the professional social agitators, we find plenty of thoughtful people on all sides of these thorny issues who are more than willing to think through the problems and work out reasonable solutions.

But are those pushing the new gender theory willing to consider anything “reasonable“ – short of absolute acceptance and affirmation of a theory of human sexuality that rests on shaky science and political agendas? That is the question whose answer will impact the emotional well-being of girls and boys all over America. 

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