Transgender Students Stand Against GOP Governor Over Hateful Bathroom Bill (VIDEO)

Transgender Students Stand Against GOP Governor Over Hateful Bathroom Bill (VIDEO)

Transgender students discriminated against with Governor’s ‘bathroom bill.’

Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard has caused a lot of controversy with the LGBT population and human rights activists with a bill that proposes separate facilities in schools for transgender students. According to him, this is for everyone’s safety.

Daugaard, governor of South Dakota, proposed the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ which passed the state House in early February and since last week passed the legislature. South Dakota has become the first state in the US to require students to use toilets and dressing facilities based on their chromosomes and anatomy. South Dakota state Rep. Fred Deutsch, has argued that the measure is necessary to protect the “bodily privacy rights” of “biologic boys and girls”. Therefore, transgender students should have special accommodations.

However, not only is the idea discriminatory for it points out that transgender people are not who they feel they are; it also violates the private life and sexuality of students. The bill also forces transgender students to come out, something extremely hard for most of them and something, in addition, undesired by many. This openness towards their peers makes them more vulnerable to bullying and harassment. Libby Skarin, the ACLU’s South Dakota policy director, who has testified against the bill said that:

“This bill causes actual harm to transgender students, an already vulnerable population… It singles out and targets them and attempts to isolate them, in a way that is really truly hurtful and discriminatory.”

In spite of the criticism, five other states across the country have considered similar proposals that undermine the LGBT community’s rights. There are also still some measures pending in legislatures. An example is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act from last year that the LGBT community saw as giving employers the rights to discriminate gays and lesbians based on religious opposition to homosexuality. Oklahoma and Tennessee are each pondering four different measures while Virginia is considering seven. Other cases are Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington.

Supporters claim that that these types of bills are essential to protect religious beliefs, but to critics, these promote a discriminative treatment against LGBT people. This is mainly due to the religious opposition to homosexuality and especially transgenderism. Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union has said:

“There’s a bit of amnesia… The original plan was to make sure marriage equality wouldn’t be legal. You don’t have to scratch very far beneath the surface to see that these bills are about eroding LGBT equality.”

The Guardian recently stated that according to a report from Human Rights Campaign (HRC) transgender rights have been targeted in twice as many bills in just the two months of 2016, than in the entire previous year. According to the report:

“44 anti-transgender bills are filed in 16 states so far. Several pose serious threats of passage. 23 target children.”

Title IX is very clear — transgender students don’t need special bathrooms and locker rooms.

However, the U.S. Department of Education has warned all public schools that a law from the 1970s regarding sex discrimination states that it is illegal to deny transgender students access to the facilities of their choice. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has clearly emphasized in the non-discrimination clause in the 1972 Title IX civil rights law which is also applicable to the rights of LGBT people.

Students across the country have been standing up to their rights with the support of the DOE and the Department of Justice. Not only there are already several cases of demands against schools and Universities in different states; outrage and embarrassment have been widely expressed in social media.

But the eradication of discriminatory practices still has a very long road to go even in the so-called moderate parts of the country. The issue is truly a matter of concern, and it should be unthinkable to use religion or morality as excuses to isolate and violate the rights of the transgender community, and above all, of children.

And to witness the kind of shame and embarrassment transgender students are put through, check out this video from Missouri where a school walked out because a transgender female was allowed to use the girls locker room, as is her right according to Title IX:

Featured image via Flickr.

From Mexico City, Carolina has lived in five different countries, experiences she defines as the most enriching. She has focused her studies and work on international conflicts and international security issues, diplomacy and protocol. Carolina holds two MA degrees and hopes to begin her PhD studies soon.