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The Proposal for Transgender Bathroom Conversion
Now that the Trump Administration has withdrawn Federal enforcement of the transgender bathroom order, it is up to each State to decide what course of action to take, if any (Hersher, Johnson, and para 4-5)
It is evident by the number of lawsuits filed against the Federal Government that the constitutionality of Obama’s Executive Order is in question. Recently, the Supreme Court postponed hearing a case involving a Virginian transgender high school’s student, partially due to President Trump’s announcement. The details of the case involve a transgender student, who was already using the boy’s bathroom, but pressure from parents and others forced the school district to change its policy and deny the student’s ability to use the boys’ bathroom. (Liptak, para 2-5). The school adopted a policy that states all students must use the bathrooms/locker rooms according to the gender on their birth certificate and a private bathroom/locker room would be provided for transgender students. The boy sued under protections outlined in the fourteenth amendment stating he was refused civil rights because of his gender. In light of the recent withdraw of Obama’s order by the Trump Administration, the Supreme Court decided to send the case back to the appellate court of origination for its further review. In August, the Supreme Court decided (5 to 3) that while the student’s case proceeds, temporarily, the school is not compelled to let the student choose his bathroom (Hersher, Johnson, para 17).
Besides the lawsuits sparked by the transgender bathroom issue, many religious organizations and activist groups have also voiced concern over the issue. North Carolinians objected so loudly that State legislatures refused to override state laws that stated people had to use the bathroom of the gender corresponding to their birth certificates. In return, the Justice Department sued the State of North Carolina for circumventing the ordering in this manner (Hersher, Johnson, para 11). Other states and communities passed similar laws or already had them in place prior to the order. When there is this much opposition and prejudice it usually stems from a gross misunderstanding of the situation
In order to produce any meaningful solutions to this problem, it is paramount to educate the public about the medical realities of hermaphroditic conditions and elicit empathy to replace the anger this subject has released. Once Americans understand that in many cases being transgender is a choice the person’s doctor made for them at birth, it is possible more people will understand the bathroom issue more readily. It is also meaningful to illustrate the costs associated with converting schools to standards acceptable to the entire community, not just the transgender group.
A three step plan is proposed that incorporates educating the public about intersex conditions, developing a realistic budget for schools to accommodate transgender bathrooms, and organizing a vote on the issue once the public is better informed.
Many people are opposed to the transgender bathroom because they lack an understanding of the medical issues involving intersex children and the path in life they face. It is difficult for most people to ever imagine having an intersex condition or having a child with a gender identity problem. Educating the public through public service announcements may be an effective way to approach this problem. If more people understood that in some cases, what has happened to an innocent baby at birth should not be the cause of persistent suffering psychologically and physiologically to have a Male XY genetic marker with a vagina. The prejudice transgender people encounter is widespread and educating the ignorant tends to abate some of the prejudice. The transgender community should consider eliciting a well-known or at least well-spoken spokesperson in order to start the process of educating the massed about the transgender plight.
The second part of the plan involves preparing budget estimates for school conversions needed to accommodate transgender students. Safety of students seems to be one of the primary concerns of opponents to the bathroom issue, so privacy is of utmost priority. Based on ideas currently being discussed within the Sarasota School District, schools would provide a private, unisex bathroom for transgender students and partition locker rooms to provide a private space there as well. It is currently not known how many specialty unisex bathrooms each school will provide; however, for purposes of this analysis, it is assumed that one per school will be built out. The budget line items represent the total cost of each subcontracted task. For instance, the drywall line item indicates the total cost to partition the locker rooms/private changing areas. Even though not all of the districted schools may have locker rooms, for purposes of this cost illustration, it is assumed each school will require the build out.
Once the public is sufficiently educated and the costs to convert the schools are properly relayed to the public, it will be time to organize a vote on the issue. Even if Trump rescinded the Federal Executive Order, States must remain concerned and prepared for a ruling by the Supreme Court that may ultimately force State school districts to comply with the initial order after all. In the event this happens, at least the public will be more educated and costs will be spelled out so that voters can make a rational, rather than emotional, decision. It must be emphasized that currently the Transgender Community does not seem to have a ‘famous’ person for their cause. A movement does not move very far without a leader.
In the event the State and its voters or the Supreme Court decide to proceed with establishing policies for transgender bathroom availability, it is important to describe the costs that will be associated with revamping schools to fit the new policies. In order to illustrate the cost per school and the impact to the over school district, Sarasota County School District will be used as an example. It should be kept in mind that if legislation impacts all school districts statewide, a further cost analysis will need to be performed. The following budget is based on estimates obtained from local contractors based on a price for completed jobs (Daniel’s Plumbing, Jimenez Drywall). Based on the cost budget analysis, the cost of school bathroom/locker room conversions equal approximately $759,500, or $17.70 per registered student (SSD, Student Enrollment Charts). If the proposed idea of adding unisex bathrooms and converting current locker room space to include a partitioned area with showers is acceptable, the costs per student are low enough to justify the conversion. If more build out is required, this budget analysis will need to be revised to take into consideration any changes. Based on empirical evidence (verbal survey of students from various SSD schools), approximately 0.1% of registered students, or approximately 429 children may be affected by an intersex condition or are transgender. The cost of conversion per transgender child, divided over the 13 years the child is assumed to attend SSD school, equals approximately $136 per child: this amount is rather a small amount to pay for the safety, security, and well-being of all students concerned. It should be noted; the costs contained herein estimates and are for illustrative purposes only.
The time is now for the Transgender movement to strive to educate the public more on the issues that affect them in an effort to reverse some of the prejudice that exists today. It seems imperative for the group to organize and delegate a leader to champion their cause. (Maybe Obama’s free?). Once organized, the group needs to decide how to educate the masses. Next, the group needs to formulate what bathroom arrangements are acceptable and provide a plan that includes cost estimates based on a per child basis in order to make acceptance of any changes more credible. The final phase is for the group to get petitions circulating to get the issue on a ballot and get the voters to approve its proposition. Many movements take years to accomplish their goals: Just think about how long it took women suffragettes, gay right activists, or civil rights leaders to accomplish their goals. The Transgender movement received a head start when Obama made the nation aware of one of its issues; however, the movement needs a powerful leader and some organizational zeal to accomplish its goals.
Liptak, A. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Major Cases on Transgender Rights”. Dated March 6, 2017. Retrieved from the New York Times website on April 12, 2017 WEB https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/supreme-court-transgender-rights-case.html?_r=0
Hersher, R. and Johnson, C., “Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Rule On Transgender Students’ Bathroom Use”. Dated February 22, 2017. Retrieved from NPR.org website on 4/11/207 WEB http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/22/516664633/trump-administration-rescinds-obama-rule-on-transgender-students-bathroom-use
Budget created by Serena Hart on MS Word. Cost estimates based on conversations with two local Sarasota contractors: Daniel’s Plumbing, Jimenez Drywall. Not to be relied on, for illustrative purposes only.
For final presentation purposes, this report will be incorporated with an analytical report, also by Serena Hart entitled, “Color Me Blue”.
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