Law lets boys and girls share locker rooms?

Filed under: Gay Parenting, In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Day Care & Education

When I was in college, I had a locker in the women's locker room for a few semesters. No, I wasn't a cross-dresser nor have I since had a sex change operation. I was one of the more advanced fencers and, as such, had a locker at the top of the stairs just outside the fencing room. It was nowhere near where any of the women changed or showered and I could even hear any locker room chatter, let alone see anything, but it was, technically, in the women's locker room.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a conservative religious group, has filed a lawsuit in California claiming that a measure which goes into effect next January would prevent public school officials from not allowing boys into the girls' locker rooms. Their argument is that by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, you cannot prevent someone from using a facility, such as a locker room or bathroom, intended for someone of the opposite gender.

According to the author of the law, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, it's really nothing new -- such discrimination has been outlawed since 1999. Current law already prohibits discrimination based on any categories listed in the state's hate crimes law, including -- you guessed it -- sexual orientation and gender identity. So far, the Senator notes, "there's never been an instance where a principal has said, 'I'm not sure we can have a prom king any more,' or where everybody has use the same bathroom."

The group's lawyer, Robert Tyler, however, disagrees about the existing law's implications and adds that "even if it did [ban such discrimination], it would be as unconstitutional then as it is now." The lawsuit [pdf] references Article 1, Section 1 of the California constitution which reads "All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."

It sure seems to me that prohibiting discrimination is a lot more in line with "enjoying and defending life and liberty" and "obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy" than is allowing it. Still, Tyler has an interesting point -- if a boy tries to go into the girls' locker room, should he be denied access simply because he is male? Intellectually, it seems the answer is no, but in practice, of course, the answer must be yes.

I'm sure there is an answer to this conundrum that disallows both discrimination and teenage boys in girls' locker rooms, but I just can't come up with it. Perhaps someone else can? Is there a way to compromise? Or is Tyler and company -- as much as it pains me to consider it -- right about the implications of this? And if they are correct, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Does a ban on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination cause other problems?
Yes -- it's nothing but trouble95 (36.8%)
No -- These people are making a mountain out of a molehill116 (45.0%)
Perhaps -- but it's a small price to pay to prevent discrimination and distress47 (18.2%)

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.