The State of North Carolina (among a few other states) set off a national firestorm when they passed a law making it state policy that people using public facilities use the bathroom corresponding to the gender assigned to them at birth.
Notably, the law did not impact bathrooms on private property.
The most reasonable criticism I’ve seen of North Carolina’s law was from people questioning why a statewide policy was needed. Isn’t bathroom policy something which could be left up to local officials? Did the state really need a uniform policy on that?
Whatever your position on trangendered Americans using bathrooms, I think that’s a position most of us can, if not agree on, at least understand. The whole point of the proliferation of authority – from the federal level down to local school boards – is that very often there is no good, one-size-fits-all solution to a problem.
And trying to force one only creates strife and resentment.
But now President Barack Obama has decided to weigh in. He’s expected to issue a decree setting a national policy on transgendered bathroom use. And, frankly, I think the same criticism applies:
The letter to school districts that will go out on Friday describing what they should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against is signed by officials of the Justice Department and Education Department, according to the Times.
It does not have the force of law but contains an implicit threat that schools which do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid, the newspaper said.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” Education Secretary John King Jr. said in a statement, according to the Times.
“We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence,” he said.
This is absurd. This is opportunistic politics at its worse. President Obama isn’t trying to solve a problem here so much as stir the political pot.
Bathroom policy should be a local issue, not the subject of national decrees.
But if there’s one thing President Obama has proven over his two terms in office, it’s that he’s a divider not a uniter.
On a related note, I think the people who feel the most unwelcome on college campuses these days are people with right-of-center politics. Not that the Obama administration has shown much interest in that particular problem.