Opinion: Decatur stacks deck against parents opposed to transgender policies

The Decatur school board pledged Tuesday to gather more public input about how it treats transgender students after some parents raised concerns about administrative guidelines that allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. (AJC File)

Jane Robbins of Atlanta is an attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank.​ In this piece, she criticizes the transgender student policy followed by the City of Decatur Schools.

The policy is being questioned by some parents, but the school board indicated at a packed public meeting Tuesday it would likely stand by it. (Robbins attended the meeting, which included three hours of public comment on the issue.) The majority of Decatur parents and residents at the meeting applauded the policy, which allows students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

As the AJC reported:

Board member Lewis Jones said the board owes it to the community to listen and “see if there are some concerns that can be addressed through appropriate measures.” But he expects the board will adopt a policy that is “largely supportive or entirely supportive of the current practices that have developed through the instructions to staff.”

Vernadette Broyles, a Norcross attorney who represents several parents who take issue with the superintendent’s instructions, said she views the directive as illegal. She said they violate the “constitutionally protected right to bodily privacy of the students” and threaten parents’ rights “to direct the training and the exposure of their children’s bodies to members of the opposite sex,” among other legal problems she’s raised with the rules.

With that background, here is Robbins’ guest column. (You can read another view on this issue here.)

By Jane Robbins

The world of gender dysphoria has come to City Schools of Decatur, and things look bleak for reality-based Decatur families. This was apparent from the largely respectful but sometimes emotional discussion at a CSD Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

At issue was a set of radical guidelines implemented by Superintendent David Dude specifying required accommodations for CSD students suffering from gender dysphoria (transgenderism).

Decatur parents discovered this plan in February when a July 2016 staff memo from Dude appeared on social media. The memo contained guidelines – never approved by the board or submitted to parents – requiring that staff open up all restrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, and overnight accommodations to both sexes. Although CSD has enforced general non-discrimination language for 10 years, Dude’s mandate is something new and troubling.

These guidelines are even more extreme than the Obama administration “guidance” of 2016, which at least acknowledged problems with male athletes’ competing against female athletes. Dude had no such qualms.

Horrified CSD parents could think of no greater abdication of the school’s responsibility to protect their children’s privacy, safety, and dignity than allowing members of one sex to enter the most private spaces of the other. And they objected to the wholesale inversion of federal protections (Title IX) for girls’ athletic opportunities. (See here and here for how girls are disadvantaged by being pitted against male athletes.)

So these parents demanded the board review the policy and consider the public input that Dude had excluded. Thus the discussion on Tuesday.

Jane Robbins

The board signaled its proclivities at a pre-meeting work session. One “expert” invited to discuss gender dysphoria was a minister who “transitioned” 20 years ago, and who offered historical information but little scientific data. The other was a Georgia State University professor who admitted that transgender individuals make up less than .4 percent of the population. The professor identified himself as “cisgender” (a made-up word that refers to accepting one’s biological sex) and declared that modifying the transgender policy will cause kids to kill themselves. For what it’s worth, he also revealed that he trained at the Kinsey Institute, which was founded by a sexologist who can most charitably be described as a  moral monster.

With the “scientific” information coming solely from these two, the deck would appear to be stacked.

Most statements made at the subsequent public meeting supported the transgender policy, not surprising for Decatur, long a magnet for hyper-diversity and left-wing activism. Parents and current or former CSD students spoke about struggling with gender dysphoria. Many commenters on the other side acknowledged this difficulty but urged a compassionate accommodation that protects all students.

In this environment, it’s notable that anyone dared oppose the policy (15 speakers did, and one parent confided after the meeting many others had concerns but were simply afraid to speak out). They related their children’s discomfort at having to change clothes or engage in other private functions alongside a member of the opposite sex. They objected to the non-transparent creation of the policy, and to the schools’ usurping their parental rights to address these issues on their own timetable and transmit their own values to their children.

Several African-American speakers took exception to Dude’s suggestion that restricting private spaces to members of a single sex (permitted by Title IX regulations) is the same as Jim Crow racial segregation. They recognized the difference between race and sex, as did everyone in the world until about day before yesterday.

Vernadette Broyles, an attorney representing some of the parents, warned the new policy violates students’ right to privacy, parental rights, first amendment rights, and Title IX. Board members seem unconcerned the increased legal liability.

The board didn’t take a vote and pledged instead to hold input sessions so that all stakeholders can be heard. Most members indicated, however, that they support the policy and doubt it will change. There was little acknowledgement that non-dysphoric students could have legitimate concerns; the problems of the dysphoric were clearly considered more important.

An indicator of whether the board members have open minds will be their response to an offer from a pediatric endocrinologist who has treated gender-dysphoric patients for decades. He warned that despite the propaganda, there is no medical consensus that the policy in question is the best way to handle the condition. He urged the board to take a thoughtful, balanced approach, and offered his services to help.

If the board invites him to return and provide input, there’s hope. If not, the fix is in. Parents in other districts should brace themselves – their kids will be next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

27 comments
Jennifer Little Crawford
Jennifer Little Crawford

As a parent in the City of Decatur I am disgusted that you would print this garbage without speaking to anyone in our community. The “deck was stacked “ because we overwhelmingly support the policy. It is my understanding that one married couple is in opposition.

Amy Bugg Burke
Amy Bugg Burke

Although I also agree that this is garbage, it's an opinion piece, and Maureen did a good job of giving background on the author and stating that most residents in attendance support the current policy. I am sure that she would happily print an opposing view!! (And I'd sure as heck love to see one, as I know there are some folks involved who can eloquently and compassionately explain WHY this is article is bigoted nonsense).

AJC  Get Schooled
AJC Get Schooled

While the latest pieces on my blog have focused on Decatur, I've run several pieces over the last year on the issue. I am happy to consider other op-eds. I have also written my own view on the blog, which is that all kids deserve to attend school in a supportive environment that allows them to learn and grow. I agree with the federal education department’s former guidance, which signaled to schools that transgender students must be safe and protected and made to feel they belong and are welcomed.

Tom Green
Tom Green

It's all fun and games until your "girls" team shows up and looks across the court/field and realizes that it's time to cross over to do some recruiting. It should make for some interesting Title 9 law suits.

Tom DeSimone
Tom DeSimone

Can you identify a specific instance where something like this occurred? Or are you just creating imaginary scenarios?

Kathleen Carpenter
Kathleen Carpenter

She is a fearmongering opportunist--she did the same thing a few years back when Common Core was the topic of the day.

JohnGMorris
JohnGMorris

The Decatur School System's solution to the problem of transgender accommodation appears to be intentionally confrontational and dismissive of the concerns of a significant number of stakeholders. And what of those children that don't identify with either gender or do not wish to make a public gender identification.  Moreover, it makes a mockery of how individuals identify the gender of others and the implications of that identification.  Does Dude not realize that we are talking about a situation involving children whose social skills and empathy are still limited and in the case of many boys simply non-existent. So, instead of fostering the anonymity that most folks seek in high school and middle school, the policy will strip the transgender students of their anonymity and place them under a spotlight. Some may welcome the spotlight, most will not -- and there is no going back.  It just seems like a policy that seeks to both legitimize a population and then crush it. Honestly, I can't see how a policy such as this can end well.


Ultimately, a real accommodation would provide private spaces for individuals without regard to gender identification (e.g., single person restrooms with full doors that are not gender specific, individual changing spaces with full doors and showers). Gender identification would no longer matter.  Of source, this sort of accommodation costs money and creates an opportunity for mischief, but it would avoid much of the discord and chaos that Dude seems to favor.  



Dianne Skoll
Dianne Skoll

@JohnGMorris I live in a jurisdiction of over 13 million people that has had similar policies throughout its schools and indeed in the general human rights code for the last 5 years, and there have been no problems.  I mean, literally none.  So I'm not sure what your concerns are with this policy "ending well."

Ben Man-n
Ben Man-n

"The world of gender dysphoria has come to City Schools of Decatur, and things look bleak for reality-based Decatur families." Are you kidding me? "Reality based"!!!! This is why you'll be remembered on the wrong side of history.

TGT88
TGT88

So it's not "reality based" to recognize the biological differences between a male and a female? Sounds like you're on the "wrong side" of science.

Ben Man-n
Ben Man-n

In 15-20 years hopefully we'll read this garbage the same way we view pro-segregation editorials today.

TGT88
TGT88

The only "garbage" here comes from the fools who can't tell the difference between a male and a female. 

Dianne Skoll
Dianne Skoll

Ah yes.  The school board "stacked" the deck against bigots who want to take away trans kids civil rights and hurt LGBT kids in general.

And yes, someone who did transition is more of an expert on transgender issues than someone from a "Conservative think-tank" whose agenda is impervious to facts.

bu22
bu22

@Dianne Skoll  Your response was written without a) reading or b) comprehending the article.  The major question is the right to privacy of the other 99+% and how that is weighed.

Dianne Skoll
Dianne Skoll

@bu22Oh, I read the article and I'm extremely familiar with the issues.  Are you proposing that https://dianne.skoll.ca/imgs/tm2.jpg should be forced to use the ladies' room because the person pictured was assigned female at birth?

No privacy issues there?

Dianne Skoll
Dianne Skoll

@bu22

The author's arguing skills are lacking.  She says transgender people only make up 0.4% of the population.  So what?  How is that relevant?  One does not lose one's civil rights because one is part of a small group.


She makes an ad-hominem attack against the Georgia State professor for being associated with the Kinsey institute that was founded by a "moral monster", to use her words.  First of all, so what if Kinsey was not moral in his personal life?  His scientific works stands on its own.  Second, how does Kinsey's moral failing "rub off" on the Georgia State professor and affect what the professor says about gender issues?


She criticizes the term "cisgender" as "made-up".  Well, duh.  All words are made up.  Or does the author think they have always existed and are just discovered?

All in all, a very poorly-argued position.

meno
meno

@Dianne Skoll @bu22 Thanks for pointing out the absurdity in her attack on the GSU professor.  Unfortunately, it is arguments like those that permeate the whole right-wing ideological landscape and keep getting red state people  to devote so much of their energy to things that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with making their lives better.

meno
meno

@TGT88 @Dianne Skoll @bu22 Except, of course, if it involves having the biggest inauguration crowd ever or 3 million illegal voters keeping you from winning the popular vote!

bu22
bu22

@Dianne Skoll @bu22  Again, you fail to acknowledge the issues with the 99.6% whose privacy is violated.  Few of the transgenders have transitioned in high school.  And the logical solution is, as some opposed to Decatur's rules proposed, the availability of single person facilities.

Dan Whisenhunt
Dan Whisenhunt

These were the same arguments made about gay students 20 years ago. They were nonsense then and they're nonsense now.

TGT88
TGT88

So it's "nonsense" to call humans born with XY chromosomes (and a penis, and all the other male parts) a "male?" Welcome to the "wrong side" of science (and morality).

Astropig
Astropig

A gift to the school choice movement.I totally agree with the school board here.


Parents- Had enough?

alt2AJC
alt2AJC

Give parents tuition vouchers and allow them to choose the public or private school which best meets their needs ... and this insanity will end.