This piece is co-authored by Emmett McGroarty, senior fellow at American Principles Project.
Narrowly viewed, the unlawful “guidance” letter issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, implicitly threatening schools that refuse to allow both sexes to access all restrooms, locker rooms, dormitories/sleeping quarters, and probably sports teams, represents a leftist assault on student privacy. But the attack is much broader than that, actually targeting fundamental realities on which human civilization is based.
Rather than write a book on that subject, let’s focus on one strand that should especially disturb parents: The guidance is yet another in a long series of attacks on parental authority concerning the care and education of their children.
The problem goes back decades. Although older Supreme Court cases (Meyer v. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Wisconsin v. Yoder) affirmed the fundamental right of parents to control their children’s upbringing and education, that principle has been eroded – especially as it applies to protecting children from the new and rapidly evolving sexual orthodoxy.
Progressive government embraces the view that the law must facilitate the full self-realization of every person, whether homosexual, transgender, or another of the multiplying forms of “gender nonconformity.” There can be no public preference for heterosexual norms, and schools must practice strict conformity to the nonconformity. If parents’ values – especially religious values – conflict with this new ideological regime, those values must yield.
Long before the recent guidance, courts have upheld such outrages as teaching kindergartners that same-sex relationships are equivalent to heterosexual ones; administering surveys to young children, asking about sexual subjects, personal feelings and experiences, and family relationships; and presenting a vulgar, sexually explicit program to teenagers for AIDS-prevention purposes.
These courts and others have opined that if parents choose public schools, they pretty much relinquish their right to object to what happens in those schools. As one radical federal judge said, parents “have no constitutional right . . . to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”
Which brings us back to the transgender guidance letter. While not extensively discussing parents’ roles in determining how gender-confused children are treated, the letter includes a separate document entitled “Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students” that delves into this topic. And this document makes clear that parents are not to be deferred to – or even notified – unless they agree with the government that their child’s delusion should be encouraged.
The government cites with approval various school practices that amount to keeping parents in the dark: “Some school policies recommend, with regard to an older student, that school staff consult with the student before reaching out to the student’s parents.” The document approves of school policies that require deliberately withholding information about what’s happening with a child at school. From the Chicago Public Schools: “When speaking with . . . parents, . . . school staff should not disclose a student’s preferred name, pronoun, or other confidential information pertaining to the student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status without the student’s permission . . . .” From the El Rancho Unified School District in California: When contacting parents, school personnel should “not . . . reveal, imply, or refer to a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
The federal government is thus directing schools to keep secret from parents that their child is suffering from what many medical professionals, such as Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins Medical School, describe as a serious mental disorder. The government has usurped the role of the parent in determining how a child’s health should be protected and problems treated, decreeing that gender dysphoria is perfectly normal and should be encouraged.
As Dr. McHugh has explained, there are effective therapies to resolve gender dysphoria in children who don’t naturally outgrow it. But too many schools will buckle under the Administration’s threat and deny children that treatment by concealing the medical problem from parents in the first place. This, as the American College of Pediatricians warns, is child abuse.
Are there medical professionals who disagree? Of course – there are agenda-driven ideologues in every profession. But the government has no right to take sides on this issue and resolve it in favor of the radicals – it is the parents’ right and responsibility to address their child’s medical problems as they see fit.
The transgender guidance letter is thus about much more than bathrooms. It’s about obliterating the rights of parents to raise their children. Will parents and their elected officials allow this to happen?