It’s hard being an adolescent. We all remember the insecurity, the embarrassment of bodies run amok, the struggle for identity, the jockeying for status.
Using the bathrooms and locker rooms at school is just one more reminder how awkward it is. It would be nice if adequate stalls without gaps were available to shield everyone, male or female, going to the toilet, or changing or showering.
But dudes have been managing with the urinals for quite awhile now, and there are usually stalls available for the extra-modest student. “Pee, wash and leave” is the usual course of action.
So we couldn’t help but raise our eyebrows when we read in his attorney’s letter that a young man called “T.B.” was feeling “tremendous anxiety” because a transgender student who identifies as male was using the same bathroom he was. T.B.’s mom is suing the Sutherlin School District, calling out the transgender student, Tyler, and seeking to bar him from using the boys’ bathroom.
Poor Tyler. He has found himself on the cutting edge of the culture war in a small town where the battles can get vicious. He was born with female genitalia but identifies as a boy. He’s a member of a small minority, and one that has a much more credible claim to anxiety, not to mention depression and other ailments, largely as a result of the discrimination, bigotry and hatred they face on a daily basis.
Because let’s be crystal clear. The victim in this situation isn’t T.B. It’s Tyler.
The director of Basic Rights Oregon called this case an example of “bullying by lawsuit.” We agree.
There was a time when white people didn’t want to share bathrooms with African Americans. There was a time when it wasn’t legal in most of the country for two members of the same sex to marry each other.
Then, most people just got over it. And those who insisted on clinging to outdated bigotry crawled back under their rocks.
Until they found somebody else to pick on.
Tyler gave an interesting answer, according to his detractors, when asked why he chose to use the boys’ bathroom for the first time this January. He reportedly said “because I can.”
There’s been a bit of pushback on that comment, but we can’t see why. After all, he’s right.
Oregon law expressly considers sexual identity part of sexual orientation, making transgender people a protected class against whom discrimination is illegal. And federal law currently leaves the decision about whether to protect transgender people from discrimination in school bathrooms up to the states.
That’s one reason why a similar case brought by anti-transgender parents against the Dallas, Oregon school district was dismissed by a federal judge last week.
It’s also the reason why the lawsuit brought against the Sutherlin School District is likely to be thrown out of court, but only after it’s inconvenienced the school district and made Tyler’s already difficult life path just that much harder.
Let’s hope this nuisance suit is quickly disposed of by the court.