Readers: Remember the saying, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?” Now it’s predators. To wit —
Dear Free-Range Kids: I hope you don’t mind me sending you a link to a report on NPR this morning about a concerted effort to overthrow a law that affects transgender people. The part that bothered me I underlined and bolded below:
At Azusa High School in Southern California, Pat Cordova-Goff is the student body president, a varsity cheerleader, homecoming princess and a straight-A senior. But she isn’t always comfortable at school. She is Azusa High’s only openly transgender student, and when she’s at school, she tries to avoid using the bathroom altogether.
“If I were to go to the boys’ restroom, there’s a chance I might be bullied, hurt, even harassed. But if I go to the girls’, I’m kind of not allowed. I might get in trouble, so it’s kind of like I have nowhere to go,” she says. Under California’s new law, Cordova-Goff’s school would be required to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom. And it’s precisely this bathroom policy that has riled opponents.
“That is so confusing, and so it opens the door for predators,” says Judi McDaniels, a mother and grandmother who went door to door in the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills petitioning for signatures to repeal the law.”
Here’s what I find disturbing: How do we get from “that is so confusing” to “and so it opens the door for predators”? Putting aside everything else for a minute, isn’t this a somewhat dated view of who sexual predators tend to be and how/where they operate? Hasn’t the idea of pedophiles swarming public bathrooms waiting to molest children been proven to be somewhat rare, and that instead, predators tend to be people who are generally well-known to the child?Furthermore, I think the implied (though maybe unconscious) meaning is also that transgender people are “perverts”—just like pedophiles—and will be more likely to do harm to children. Or anyone.
How about if you feel weird about sharing a public bathroom with a transgendered person, you don’t go in there?
Keep up the good work! Yours, Ellen Shea
Lenore here: Ellen, I totally agree that this woman’s “argument” was trotted out only because often enough appealing to children’s safety — and sanctity — can win points, especially if an audience doesn’t care about logic. But as for the fear of predators in public bathrooms, that worry is SO alive and well that it’s not uncommon for moms to drag boys of 7, 8, and even 9 into the ladies room. Or, in the case of one mom I met on my TV show, a boy of 13! The good news? Once that particular mom was encouraged/prodded/sort-of-forced by me to send her son into the bathroom solo and he — surprise! — emerged just fine, her fear just crumbled. It so often does,when faced with reality. And so I expect fear and prejudice of transgendered people to start crumbling, too, once they are afforded their rights and simply a part of the kaleidoscope that is our country.