Heritage Foundation panelists criticize pro-trans bathroom policies

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Members of a Heritage Foundation panel on Thursday sharply criticized efforts to allow transgender people to use bathrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity.

Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, moderated the panel that was titled, “Biology Isn’t Bigotry: Why Sex Matters in the Age of Gender Identity.”

“As gender identity ordinances and bathroom battles sweep the nation, ordinary Americans have had to confront the question of whether their long-standing beliefs about the sexes are based on biology or bigotry,” reads a description of the panel the Heritage Foundation posted on its website.

Anderson in his opening remarks said trans activists and their supporters “attacked” single occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms that he described as “common sense compromise solutions.” He also applauded U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor who issued an injunction last summer against the Obama administration’s guidance to public schools that said Title IX requires them to allow trans students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The Justice Department last week withdrew its appeal of O’Connor’s ruling hours after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in. This decision comes less than two months before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a trans student who filed a lawsuit against his Virginia school district’s bathroom policy.

“Judge O’Connor got the case right,” said Anderson. “The Obama administration was unlawfully rewriting federal law.”

“The term sex is not ambiguous and it’s not subject to executive branch agency redefinition to now mean gender identity,” he added.

Other panelists also criticized efforts to accommodate trans or gender non-conforming students.

Emily Zinos of the Minnesota chapter of the Family Policy Alliance-sponsored Ask Me First campaign said the principal of her children’s school told her in an email that a “gender non-conforming kindergartner had arrived.” Zinos noted “a whole host of demands quickly followed this announcement.”

“The bathrooms, the locker rooms, the uniforms, really every aspect of the school’s practices that differentiated between the sexes would have to be made gender-neutral,” she said in her statement that Miriam Ben-Shalom, a lesbian Army Reserve veteran who is the first person the Pentagon reinstated for being discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” read during the panel. “It was just the beginning of a wild ride into a world where schools had become indoctrination hubs and biological sex no longer exists.”

Organizers of the Milwaukee Pride Parade last year invited Ben-Shalom to serve as their grand marshal. They rescinded the invitation after they discovered anti-trans comments that she had posted to her Facebook page.

Ben-Shalom referenced the controversy during the Heritage Foundation panel. She also sharply criticized those who encourage trans children and adolescents to transition before their adults.

“As a teacher I care about my students and I believe it’s abuse,” said Ben-Shalom. “In this culture you cannot vote until you’re 18. You can’t drink until you’re 21. You can’t have a credit card of your very own that you applied for until you’re after 18 years of age. How the hell is it that you’re going to allow kids in kindergarten and 11-year-olds take all kinds of chemicals?”

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