I read a story in the Daily Mail/Daily Outrage today that made me think about human rights, and the whole “Political Correctness Gone Mad” argument. A bit of background about the story: There is an all-girls school which has just received a new student. This student is approximately sixteen years old and is in the process of transitioning from male to female. This has apparently caused concern amongst some parents of girls at the school who are worried about having a student, who was born male, sharing a changing room and toilets with their female children. The title of the article is in the screenshot below:
I think we need to remember that the rights of the individual are just as important as the rights of the majority. The moment we start to censor the rights of the individual because it allegedly compromises the rights of the group is the moment we start down a slippery slope towards fascism.
I think this situation is being looked at from the wrong perspective. The arguments in their most basic form seem to be as follows:
Parents of the female children at the school feel their children should have access to same sex changing facilities and toilet facilities. The article explains that, for some parents, the decision to send their girls to an all-girls school was because they wanted their girls to study without the unsavoury attention of boys. I suppose many of these parents do not acknowledge the very real possibility that their child may be attracted to other females and not males. For some parents, the decision comes from religious beliefs.
The parents of the child who is transitioning from male to female, I’m assuming, want their child to have the best chance of getting a good education, academically and socially. It would be unfair to expect this one student to have to change alone and use separate bathroom facilities if the rest of the school uses communal facilities.
There is an issue with this view, however. It is a False Dichotomy, a classic logical fallacy, which assumes there are simply two choices and that is it.
Society has changed since we started having free access to schools. Academic education used to be reserved for the wealthy, but now it is free and expected that children will attend school in some form until their late teens. As the twentieth century rolled on, homosexuality became more accepted by society and transgender is following suit, albeit slowly. As someone who is male and heterosexual I cannot truly empathise with the struggles that these people are going through. In my younger years, I admit (to my shame) to not being particularly tolerant or understanding. However, I’ve adopted an attitude of “let people be happy”. Obviously, there are limits to this and I’m going to debate the merits of the Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) versus not doing to others as you would not want done to you. I could be here all day debating that philosophical argument. My point is simply that we only get one life and you should, within all reasonable constraints of a civilised society, be able to enjoy your life as you see fit.
I’m not an expert in the terminology and any mistakes I make here are not out of malice, but simple human error and a lack of understanding. I am happy to engage in civil discussion and be corrected on any of the following.
There is a difference between sex (biological), gender (how you identify) and sexuality (who you are attracted to). In years gone by, schools were designed to deal with males who identify as male and are attracted to females, and females who identify as females and are attracted to males. This is, to my understanding, why things such as bathrooms and changing facilities were ordered by the old-school definitions of sex/gender. In 2018, we are generally more accepting and understanding that, for example, someone could be (sex) male (gender) female and be attracted to females. There are no set rules. I’m personally of the view that sexuality is not as binary as some people believe, but yet again that is a different debate.
I would like to think we have come a long way from how schools used to be.
Anyway, coming back to the point at hand. I mentioned a False Dichotomy. Perhaps the issue now is how schools are designed and how most changing facilities and bathrooms lack basic privacy. Perhaps schools should have individual changing cubicles as standard so that children can change in private without worrying about these matters. Perhaps toilets should be single person only. I don’t think this is Political Correctness Gone Mad but rather an acknowledgment that we are changing as a society. We can accommodate the rights of both the pupils at this school and their new classmate. We just have to get out of the adversarial mind-set and accept that there are other options and solutions that benefit all.
I’m not saying that we don’t continue the fight for equality, as there are many minority groups that still experience discrimination. The discussion, in my opinion here, is a wider one focusing on all children’s right to privacy at school when changing or using a bathroom.
To those children and young adults that are struggling with their identity, I have nothing but respect for the strength and courage it takes to open up about those struggles. Although we are a much more accepting society that just a few decades ago, I appreciate it must still be a daunting prospect.
It is my sincere hope that I have not caused any offence with this post. I welcome any reasonable comment and debate. Thanks for reading.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.