I’ve reserved my words on this topic to one-on-one conversations so far, but tonight I must break my silence. President Obama’s order to public schools today has simply broken my resolve to bite my tongue. I want to be clear and calm in what I say, so that there’s no room for misunderstanding, and no grounds to accuse me of hatred toward anyone.
There is an unspoken social contract that most people enter into when they enter a public restroom. First of all, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. While only a 3/4 inch thick partition separates me from the person in the stall next to me, he doesn’t bother me, and I don’t bother him. We don’t speak, we don’t shake hands, and unless we bump into each other at the sink while washing our hands, we typically don’t acknowledge each other’s presence. We’re there to do our business quickly and get out quickly because no one really enjoys a public restroom.
Second there’s an unspoken trust that we extend. I trust that whoever I encounter in the public restroom is in there for the same reason I’m in there. I mean, unless you’re shoplifting, or avoiding someone you don’t want to talk to, you’re in there because you couldn’t hold it until you got home.
Finally, when I allowed my kids to start using the public restroom without parental supervision, I placed a significant amount of faith in you, the general public, to leave my kids alone. I also placed a significant amount of faith in my children to bite, grab, and punch in very strategic places if anyone ever tried to grab them. Plus, since both of my children are of the female gender, I’m trusting that when they enter a public restroom that they will only find other biological females within.
Now that contract is broken.
Forget me. I can handle me. If a transgender woman braves the public bathroom that I’m currently using, my plan is still the same – do my business and leave expeditiously.
But if my daughters (or my wife) are caught off guard by a transgender man in their bathroom, that’s a whole different story. It’s a symptom that the social order is broken if I cannot trust public restrooms to be safe places for my family.
I’ve read many of the defenses. Some will argue that I don’t have to worry about transgender folks, it’s the straight perverts that are the problem. Be that as it may, the very real potential of perverts in the restrooms now exists, regardless of who’s to blame. And even if it weren’t a safety issue, the fact is that because we have multiple ideas about what’s morally acceptable, if the unspoken social contract is to be upheld, the government shouldn’t take a moral position on this at all and leave our biological distinctiveness as the deciding factor.
Which leads me to this thought: the government needs to either get out of the morality business or stop pretending to have an unbiased position. Government cannot on one hand turn to cold, amoral, dispassionate science when it makes policy on abortion and stem cell research, and then on the other decide that allowing transgendered people into the public restroom of their choosing is the moral thing to do.
I’m not being hateful. I’m only trying to approach this with a dose of common sense. This culture, in many ways, exists on many layers of unspoken social contracts and a common trust is generally extended to everyone. As those contracts are broken, less trust is extended. If enough public trust is broken, we really will become isolated.
President Obama has gone too far. Public schools are already a mess. Home schooling has increased by leaps and bounds over the last decade just from the problems that existed prior to today. What little hopes that parents may have had for public school being a safe gamble is now in jeopardy.