Flat White

Transgender school policies are a safeguarding nightmare

12 February 2022

3:00 PM

12 February 2022

3:00 PM

With the Morrison government’s Religious Discrimination Bill and the recent controversy over Citipointe Christian College in the spotlight, it’s worth taking the time to look more deeply at what ‘trans and gender diverse inclusion’ policies really mean.

Many parents will be shocked to learn that schools around Australia already have policies that allow male students to use the toilets, change rooms, and even overnight accommodation meant for girls. There is no requirement to gain consent from other students or to inform parents. What could possibly go wrong?

In May last year in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA a 15-year-old girl was raped in the female school toilets by a ‘gender fluid’ male student wearing a skirt. Much like here in Australia, the school allowed students to use the facilities that aligned with their gender identity rather than their biological sex. This is the worst outcome and demonstrates an abnegation of responsibility when it comes to female students’ dignity and safety.

Gender identity policies in schools also discourage female participation and achievement in sports. Girls shouldn’t be labelled bigots for wanting to play sport exclusively with and against other girls. Forcing them to compete against boys is a new, state-sanctioned form of discrimination against girls and women.

The recent case of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas highlights what’s at stake for girls and women. Thomas competed for three years on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swimming team before taking female hormones and being allowed to compete in the women’s division. Thomas has smashed records and in one long-distance race, beat the next best female swimmer by 38 seconds. If this wasn’t demoralising enough for Thomas’ female teammates, they have also been told they have no right to complain about Thomas being naked in the women’s change rooms. Thomas is open about dating and being attracted to women.

Australian school girls should never be subjected to the possibility of  voyeurism, indecent exposure, and sexual harassment in their toilets and change rooms – not even in the name of gender identity equality.

In their ‘Guide for Schools’, transgender lobby group Transcend Australia advises that on overnight accommodation, ‘If the dorm rooms are separated by gender, the student should be permitted to be accommodated in the dorm room which aligns with their gender identity.’ Will schools also be handing out free condoms on overnight trips? The morning after pill? Or just gas-lighting the girls into feeling guilty over their desire for physical privacy?

Anecdotal evidence from around the world indicates that girls are skipping school when they have their period in order to avoid unwanted interactions with males using the girls’ facilities. Some are avoiding drinking whilst at school to reduce the number of ‘all gender’ toilet trips. All this is reminiscent of countries like India where a lack of single-sex, safe public toilets leaves girls stranded at home without access to an education.

When a school in the UK announced at their morning assembly that the girls’ toilets would be made gender-neutral without mentioning the boys’ toilets at all, the moment the assembly finished a large horde of young boys went directly to the former girls’ toilets and ran around laughing. But no girl and no teacher had the right to question them or demand they leave, because gender identity policies demand absolute submission.

We need to stop accepting the narrative that sexuality and ‘gender identity’ are in any way comparable, especially in the context of schools. It is one thing to allow religious schools to teach a religious design for sexuality, it is another thing entirely to demand that all Australian schools obliterate biological sex as a legitimate basis for decision making. ‘Gender inclusion’ policies do not protect gay kids. They put lesbians at just as much disadvantage and increased risk as every other female student.

It’s time we recognise the unfair impact that gender identity policies are having on female students. Boys too will be uncomfortable changing in front of girls claiming a male gender identity, but they’re not at risk of unwanted pregnancy, period shaming, rape (at least, not on the scale that girls are), or losing to female sports competitors.

Australia does not need a Loudoun County rape to get these policies right.

Parents, teachers and students are encouraged to submit their stories around poorly thought through gender identity policies to indefenceofchildren.org. Anonymity guaranteed.

Stassja Frei is the Founder of the Coalition for Biological Reality.

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