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Coed locker rooms given green light
Posted By Bob Unruh On 11/14/2007 @ 8:21 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
The Montgomery County Council, left to right, bottom row: George L. Leventhal, Marilyn J. Praisner (president), Phil Andrews. Top row: Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Roger Berliner, Duchy Trachtenberg, Nancy Floreen, and Mike Knapp (vice president)
Coed locker rooms could be a reality now that a new statute to allow people to “choose a gender” has been approved in Maryland.
But the measure, given the green light by elected officials in Montgomery County, will soon be the subject of a court challenge, according to a non-profit public-interest law firm.
“The definition for ‘gender identity’ is so vague that no individual of ordinary intelligence can possibly know when they are violating Chapter 27,” Robert Tyler, general counsel for the Advocates for Faith & Freedom, told county officials in a letter.
“Pursuant to the definition of ‘gender identity,’ an individual can choose a gender without limitation whatsoever,” he said.
Tyler’s comments referred to the newly approved county law 27-03, which creates a protected class of citizenry for those individuals who claim a “gender identity” issue.
As WND reported, the proposal generated a groundswell of opposition when it became known.
Essentially, the plan opens the doors of all public accommodations, including facilities such as locker rooms, to those who “perceive” they are of that gender.
A resident, identified as “Lisa,” wrote to her elected representative on the board: “From what I’m reading, the person with the gender identity confusion is being protected by what she or he FEELS he or she is. Thus, we’d have to protect this person’s gender based upon what is in his or her MIND. So, if I’m in a bathroom all by myself late at night, and a man walks in, I am supposed to be okay with this? If I’m at a pool, in a women’s locker room, and a man walks in – I’m supposed to be okay with this? This is truly unbelievable, and I’m embarrassed that Montgomery County is even spending its time on this piece of nonsense.”
“Any time politicians write a law that violates the rights of others by forcibly invading their privacy, and forcing faith-based organizations and small employers to hire cross-dressers is bad law,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX.
Tyler told WND that presuming Ike Leggett, the county executive, signs the plan into law as expected, a lawsuit will be filed.
“We’re working on it at this point in time to evaluate it,” he said. “We do expect to file a lawsuit, it’s just a matter of when.” His earlier letter to the county suggesting that the plan be dropped warned it is unconstitutionally vague, infringes on the rights of religious groups and puts the privacy and safety of citizens at risk by allowing people with a mental disorder to decide which restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities they use.
A spokeswoman for the county confirmed a proposal had been made to provide an exception to various facilities where changing clothes is essential, such as locker rooms, but the change was rejected.
Instead, county officials boasted of their accomplishment in the plan to “prohibit discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, public accommodations, cable television service and taxicab service.”
The plan, sponsored primarily by Duchy Trachtenberg, passed by an 8-0 vote, officials said.
“The Council’s Health and Human Services Committee … had suggested adding language in an attempt to clarify how the discrimination law should apply to ‘distinctly private or personal’ facilities. Some people interpreted this to include bathrooms and locker rooms. By not including this proposed amendment, operators of those types of facilities will continue to designate who can use them,” the county said.
“I am pleased that the full council has restored the primary focus of my bill to expressly prohibit discrimination against transgender citizens in the workplace, the housing market and delivery of services,” Trachtenberg said in a statement.
Griggs noted, however, the American Psychiatric Association classifies gender identity disorder as a treatable mental illness, and Tyler called for county officials to start protecting and representing the citizens in the county.
“The female residents of Montgomery County clearly have a right of privacy that prohibits all persons of the opposite sex ‘from using a restroom, locker room, or other similar facility designated for females,’” Tyler said. “It is ridiculous to place the desires of persons suffering from gender identity disorder in front of the constitutional rights and safety of 99 percent of the residents in Montgomery County.”
“I’m really embarrassed to be living in Montgomery County,” Lisa told WND.
She had contacted the county with her concerns and received a form e-mail in response, assuring her “public facilities” such as restrooms were not included.
However, an analysis by Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum noted otherwise. It says the plan “will allow males who self identify themselves as females to have open access to ALL women’s and girls’ rest rooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and showers. In other words, a male teacher or student will be able to use the female restrooms and locker rooms if he thinks he is a female.”
“Gender identity nondiscrimination laws such as this one have been used in Canada to force the teaching of the acceptance of homosexuality on Catholic schools,” the group said. “MCPS health classes currently teach our 12-year-olds that ‘gender identity is your inner sense of whether you are male or female.’”
Spokeswoman Michelle Turner said it is an issue of modesty, safety and privacy for children.
“The proposed legislation … still includes ‘public accommodations’ among major areas covered by the non-discrimination bill,” she said.
PFOX said, “The Montgomery County Council has voiced callousness and arrogance to the concerns of parents who object. When asked by a mother concerned about her 10-year-old daughter who swims at the Germantown Indoor Pool, where she must undress in front of women since there are no separate changing rooms, if under this law she could be changing next to a person with male genitals, Council member George Leventhal responded via email: ‘I cannot absolutely put to rest your concern that girls might find themselves in a locker room or dressing room in the presence of a person who expresses or asserts herself as a woman but who still has male genitals, but based on my own sense of the prevalence of that condition in the population, I think the likelihood of that occurring is remote.’”
This is just the latest battle Griggs and PFOX have encountered in the region. The pro-homosexual group Truth Wins Out earlier accused her of fabricating a report that a “gay” assaulted a volunteer at a county fair booth. Police later confirmed for WND that the incident did happen as Griggs reported.
In fact, police said they located the suspect based on the victim’s description and ended up escorting him off the fairgrounds.
PFOX also is engaged in a fight in Montgomery County seeking a court order to halt a public school sex curriculum because it contains “scientifically flawed and politically biased” information.
The organization joined with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and the Family Leader Network in filing the request for the court-ordered stay of the program targeting middle school and high school students in the district.
The organizations said the local board, headed by Nancy Navarro, adopted the curriculum that teaches anal sex as unexceptional and “intentionally excludes” warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health of the high medical dangers related to those behaviors.
“The curriculum also teaches students that homosexuality is ‘innate,’ a controversial and unproven theory advanced by gay advocacy groups serving on the Montgomery County School Board’s curriculum advisory committee,” the groups’ statement said.
Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, a prominent public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is assisting PFOX and the pro-family groups in their lawsuit against the school board.
The curriculum includes lessons intended for eighth-graders and adopts the language and points of emphasis employed by promoters of homosexuality. Also, 10th-graders will be taught about making announcements that they are homosexual and how to use a condom.
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