The local teachers union has requested to join the defense of a lawsuit against the Board of Education and the school district’s superintendent regarding the district’s transgender policy.

The Frederick County Teachers Association and its state and national affiliates — the Maryland State Education Association and the National Education Association — have requested to intervene as defendants in the civil action to get rid of the district’s transgender policy, which the Board of Education passed in June.

“There was clear data that there was a need and students spoke up and said they needed the adults to protect them and make the school a safer environment for them,” said Melissa Dirks, FCTA president. “And this policy expands privacy rights for all students, and we felt the Board of Education did the right thing for everyone.”

The policy allows transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity and participate in sports and other activities consistent with that identity, and encourages a gender-neutral dress code. The policy has been lauded as a model policy by state legislators.

But a parent and a 15-year-old FCPS student filed the suit in August, alleging that the policy violates the student’s right to bodily privacy, and the parent’s right to “care, custody, control, upbringing,” and information regarding her child.

The teachers association offered its support of the transgender policy as the board drafted and considered its passage. The union hosted a series of training sessions for its members designed to help them better serve their transgender and gender-nonconforming students even before the policy was passed, the motion said.

In Dirks’ declaration in support of the policy, she stated that as transgender students started coming out with more frequency in the late 2000s and early 2010s, teachers had to address questions that hadn’t encountered before — which led to inconsistencies in the treatment of those students.

“When educators saw these issues arise, they asked their school’s administration about which bathrooms students could use, but the response varied,” Dirks’ motion states. “Sometimes the same school gave conflicting directions to different educators.”

The policy eliminated some of those inconsistencies, Dirks said.

Dirks added that she felt the need for the union to file the motion because the lawsuit made “some sweeping accusations about teachers in FCPS that we felt like we needed to respond to.”

Two weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union and James Van Kuilenburg, a transgender student at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, asked to join the case as co-defendants.

The ACLU filed the motion to “defend the school board’s policy and stop members of the community from attempting to disrupt his and other trans students’ education by taking away their right to be treated with dignity as the gender they are.”

A judge has not ruled on the ACLU and Van Kuilenburg’s motion, nor the motion from the teachers union.

The same day the motion to intervene was filed, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying it has no merit because the girl does not have a legal right to share a bathroom with non-transgender students only.

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

(13) comments

mrnatural1

jsklinelga Nov 4, 2017 7:28am

Mr. Natural
I do not agree that the issue of the separation of church and state has long been settled.. In recent years it's original intent most certainly has been misconstrued.Slave ownership. women as property,etc. are not religious doctrines but cultural norms. In my opinion it was the "sublime morality" of the religious doctrine that helped our cultural evolve. Slavery to a majority was considered a grievous sin against human rights and dignity. Unfortunately you cannot see the harm or offense to others by this current policy. Are you correct in a certain sense. Why should a person be restricted from walking around naked in public. Would he, she or it really be harming anyone? What about permissible constant vulgarity in schools. Would that be harming anyone?

[For some reason there is no "reply" button below jsklinelga's recent post, so I copied it above]

You are correct -- I cannot see the harm or offense to others by this current policy. In all sincerity, please explain how it harms others. You aren't seriously comparing it to slavery are you?

I like your rhetorical questions about public nudity and vulgarity. I see your point you are attempting to make, but those two examples are a l-o-n-g way from kids using whichever bathroom they are comfortable with. I have yet to hear anyone explain what harm would come from that.

As for your examples, they do raise the question, "What is the definition of "harm" and/or "infringement of rights".

All developed countries, and most developing countries have laws and/or social norms regarding how men and women should dress. Those laws/norms often vary based on time and place -- church; office; backyard party; hiking; beach. There are nudist colonies and nude beaches but they are limited to controlled areas. I'm not aware of a movement to change any of that. The vast majority of Americans agree that people should wear reasonable amount of clothing while in public. That will not change because of the FCPS bathroom policy.

Vulgarity in schools is much the same. I found this related piece that should make you feel better:

http://www.newseuminstitute.org/2011/10/06/remember-profanity-isnt-always-protected-speech/

Quote: "Furthermore, though you may have a right to curse on the street, don’t assume you have a right to curse at your public employer or at your public school. Context — as well as content — is important in First Amendment law. The government has greater power to regulate speech when it acts as employer or educator than it does when it acts as sovereign."

So it seems schoolkids are safe.

You said, "Slave ownership. women as property,etc. are not religious doctrines but cultural norms". I found these multiple Biblical quotes that contradict that:

https://www.openbible.info/topics/slavery

https://www.openbible.info/topics/women_as_property

I agree that those things are also cultural norms. Thankfully, norms change, as the FCPS bathroom rule demonstrates.

You may recall that Planet Fitness instituted a similar policy a while back, but in their case of course it dealt with locker rooms and showers. You'll be pleased to know that I disagree(d) with that policy because, as I've said, there's a big difference between a public restroom with stalls, and an open locker room with showers. My objection wasn't based on religious or moral beliefs though, it just seemed/seems to me that they are asking for trouble. I can see teenage and college age boys declaring that they "identify" as a woman just to be allowed in the women's locker room and get a look around. The again, I haven't seen anything in the news, so maybe that's worked out OK for Planet Fitness. Anyone know? If they haven't had any trouble then that's a good indication that FCPS will not either.

mrnatural1

The humans sure get wound up about sex and gender issues...

A couple thoughts:

1) For those who are adamant that biological males and females each have their own bathroom, presumably due to concerns about members of the opposite sex seeing their genitals and having lustful thoughts --

a) Have you considered the fact that a significant number of both boys and girls are gay? Not only are they sharing bathrooms with members of their same sex (who they are attracted to), they are sharing locker rooms and showers. That has been going on, well, since there have been locker rooms and showers, yet we don't hear about any problems. There is essentially no difference between that, and having boys and girls share a locker room. Gay women have the same/similar thoughts and impulses toward other women that straight guys do, and vice versa.

b) We're talking about *bathrooms*, with stalls and partitions. A person would have to really make a concerted effort to see anything.

c) Ever been to a ball game or concert where girls and women use the men's room because the line for the women's bathroom is much longer? I've witnessed that numerous times and not once did I hear so much as a crude comment -- let alone see a guy trying to spy on a woman using the toilet or enter the stall. For their part, the girls/women seemed totally disinterested in the guys as well.

In short, this is a classic 'mountain out of a molehill' situation.

As for the religious objections, I have friends and family members who are religious, so I am sympathetic to those concerns, but, well, separation of church and state. I know it is tempting for members of any religion to force their beliefs on others through legislation, but in their wisdom the Founding Fathers expressly said that should be avoided. Pointing to religious texts might work in theocracies like Iran but is generally not effective here in America.

Of course there are things that all reasonable people can agree on -- religious or not: Murder, rape, theft, etc, are wrong; treat others as you would like to be treated. Those are things that deal with how the actions of one person affect another. It's the 'morality' issues where people disagree, and everyone should be left to live their lives the way they see fit. We may not approve of certain lifestyles and behaviors but if they are not seriously infringing on anyone else's rights then there can be no justification for outlawing their behavior. Live and let live. We don't see too many atheists and agnostics attempting to force their beliefs (or lack thereof) on others.


Finally, since it was mentioned, we have a progressive (rather than flat) tax code because the wealthier a person is, the more disposable income they have. They can easily afford to pay a higher percentage. Under Eisenhower (a republican) the top tax rate was 91% (and even higher prior to his presidency), and America was doing great.

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/under-eisenhower-the-top-tax-rate-was-91-percent-was-he-a-socialist

Of course, very few people actually *paid* 91%, and no one, not even Bernie Sanders, is proposing rates that high now, but a reasonably progressive system is fair. With a flat tax, people who are just getting by, who barely have enough to pay the bills -- let alone afford a family vacation -- are expected to pay the same percentage of their income as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. For Gates and Buffet and other wealthy people, whether they pay 10% or 20% or 30% of their income doesn't really matter, in that it does not affect their lifestyle one bit. It is not a hardship by any stretch. For a working class or middle class couple the difference between 10% and 20% is HUGE, because they have little or no disposable income to begin with.

I'm not saying we should "stick it to the rich", but in fairness, they can afford to pay a higher percentage than people earning a modest income.

jsklinelga

Mr.Natural,
There are simply too many areas of questionable logic to begin to elaborate. No difference if boys and girls use the same locker room?? Separation of Church and State? With no animosity intended I believe you need to study your history. Almost all the forefathers stressed the importance of a religious based morality as the only sure underpinning for a free and democratic republic.

mrnatural1

JS,

Thanks for your reply. I wish you would elaborate, I'm open to other views.

You asked, "No difference if boys and girls use the same locker room??"

What I wrote was, "There is essentially no difference between *that*, and having boys and girls share a locker room." With the word "that" referring to straight and gay boys sharing one locker room and straight and gay girls sharing another locker room. I probably shouldn't have said "no difference", but the point is sound -- that gay women have the same/similar thoughts and impulses toward other women that straight guys do, and vice versa -- yet there do not seem to be any sexual assaults. And that's in locker rooms and showers, so if there are no (or very few) problems there, bathrooms should not be a concern.

I was simply using that observation to support the case for kids using whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable in, not to argue that we should have unisex locker rooms. Even though some students are gay, it's clearly better to have separate locker rooms and showers. Bathrooms are very different.

The issue of the separation of church and state has long been settled. As for what the Founding Fathers thought about "morality", they lived over 200 years ago. Several of them were slave owners. Women were considered to be "property" and could not even vote. They certainly could not hold the same positions as men. Interracial dating and marriage were unheard of (and likely punishable by death from an angry lynch mob). Etc, etc. IOW, in 2017, many of the moral views of men who lived in the 1700s are not valid -- regardless of how brilliant the Constitution is. Social norms change over time.

The bottom line is that when it comes to human lifestyles and behavior, as long as the person is not harming anyone else then they only have themselves (and their God, if they have one) to answer to. Not me, not you, or anyone else.


jsklinelga

Mr. Natural
I do not agree that the issue of the separation of church and state has long been settled.. In recent years it's original intent most certainly has been misconstrued.Slave ownership. women as property,etc. are not religious doctrines but cultural norms. In my opinion it was the "sublime morality" of the religious doctrine that helped our cultural evolve. Slavery to a majority was considered a grievous sin against human rights and dignity. Unfortunately you cannot see the harm or offense to others by this current policy. Are you correct in a certain sense. Why should a person be restricted from walking around naked in public. Would he, she or it really be harming anyone? What about permissible constant vulgarity in schools. Would that be harming anyone?

jerseygrl42

what a disgrace; so the trans have rights but the young lady bringing the suit does not...yep that sounds fair...doesn't it?

stjohn42

Her rights stop where other persons' rights start. If she (or more properly, her parents) are so terrified of that which is different that it cannot be abided, then they should just home school.

claudefan

Sorry, 2018 election. :-)

claudefan

What data is Melissa Dirks talking about? I have the FCPS statistics on bullying, children of color and disabled children are bullied more than transgender children. Where is there special extra Constitutional protection?

This case is not about "transgenders". This case is about privacy, safety, free speech and parental rights. BoE totally ignored and disregarded the rights and dignity of normal children. (Yes, NORMAL as in not suffering from gender dysphoria.) If Frederick county wants to restore the rights of its children to privacy in private spaces. Our current private spaces are designated by "sex" and "gender identity" plays no part in one's biology. Children have a right not to be seen by the opposite sex. FCPS wants to ostracize and bully those who disagree with that.

Elections have consequences. The swiftest resolution to this problem is voting in 4 Board of Education members in 2014 who will rescind policy 443 and restore common sense. Boys and girls in their biological spaces. Accommodations for transgender children in gender neutral or single use facilities.

A vote for the Apple Ballot is a vote to allow boys in girls private spaces and vice versa. The Apple is rotten to the core.

DickD

Very reasonable, Claude, thank you. I don't want to discriminate against anyone, but there are limits and this has gone beyond being rational.

jsklinelga

This is one more example of why many people are seeking alternatives to Public Education and why many people are questioning the practices and the extensive political reach of the Teacher's Union. Will the outright social acceptance and bending over backwards for homosexuality and transgender-ism be the dividing force that severely harms America for generations. The deeply entrenched progressive "one world" movement with huge taxpayer based Union arms is seen as an outright threat to our country by a significant percentage of our population.

I am not a hater. I have known gay people all my life and "with God's honest truth" have never held ill will or dislike towards any of them. Homosexuality, and, more importantly "sexual freedom" is spoken against in every major religion.

"Equal rights for all" is a common mantra. I asks the supporters of this if they support equal rights for the wealthy. Why should people of great wealth be taxed any different then the poor? Where are their equal rights? We all know the social reasoning behind the law. The progressive tax code serves a social purpose as would a restraint on "sexual freedom.'

DickD

Jim, there have always been gays and the Catholic Church, because of it's archaic rules, is one of the worse. If you don't want to marry, here is a perfect place to work and live very good. And although they too preach against anything not considered normal, many - not all, practice something totally different.

jsklinelga

Dick D
Your comments involving religion almost always reference the Catholic Church, To many it is of no consideration what the CC preaches but only what the 4000 year record of Scriptures convey. It is not a dogmatic pursuit but a spiritual pursuit. Even Buddha's path to enlightenment, within his four noble truths, preaches restraint of the fleshly pursuits. Yes there has always been gays and, also, many various histories with cultures that embraced a freer sexuality.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.