Citizens of Montgomery County, Md., have launched a petition drive against a law they say essentially would allow people to choose their gender when using public facilities.
“This is a bad law all around and should be repealed,” said Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for the new group planning to operate under the name Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government.
Its website, Not My Shower, already has been launched.
The new statute was first given the green light by elected officials in Montgomery County and now has been signed into law by County Executive Ike Leggett.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett
“By the stroke of a very powerful pen, County Executive Leggett has broken the biological barriers that separate male and female facilities,” the group announcement said. “No longer will women and girls be able to feel completely safe in the most private and personal bathroom and locker facilities of schools, public pools, malls, stores, health clubs, restaurants and other such public places throughout the county.”
The organization said Leggett’s signature on Bill 23-07 means even religious schools could be forced to hire transgender teachers “and then also allow cross-dressing but biological males in your daughters’ school locker room.”
Patrick Lacefield, the county’s communications director, told WND that it’s a free country, and “if people want to try to gather signatures, to put a measure that’s been signed, passed unanimously by the council and signed into law by the executive, that’s their right.”
He said the county’s legal team advised that its provisions for protections for those with “gender identity issues” would not apply to “intimate facilities” such as restrooms and locker rooms.
However, he admitted nowhere in the law is that stated specifically.
“We do not feel that it was necessary to explicitly state that,” he said.
The original draft of the law left the issue unstated. Then council members added specific language addressing the issue, specifying that such protections would include restrooms and locker rooms, then ultimately returned to the original draft, which contains no specifications in that regard, he said.
The law protects those with “gender identity” issues and then defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender, including a person’s gender-related appearance, expression, image, identity, or behavior, whether or not those gender-related characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
The organization said its referendum to prevent implementation of the plan already has been filed, and “we are calling on every concerned Montgomery County citizen to join us in this huge undertaking.”
The plan also could be targeted by a court action, according to officials with an advocacy 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.
His comments noted the law creates a protected class of citizenry for individuals who claim a “gender identity” issue.
As WND reported, the proposal generated a groundswell of opposition when it became known.
Now the citizens’ group will need to collect the signatures of more than 25,000 registered voters in about 90 days, before a Feb. 16, 2008, deadline.
Dr. Ruth Jacobs is serving as president of the group. She’s an expert on infectious diseases and already has been active in a battle fought by a group called Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum to fight the local school district’s explicit sex education program that has been challenged as factually incorrect.
She said she suggested that a provision be added to the law to protect the safety and privacy of women and children.
“Instead, the council explicitly added restrooms, showers, locker rooms and other such areas to the bill,” she said.
“The council and county executive have publicly stated that access to these areas will be decided by their operators. But all they are doing is kicking the issue into the lap of the county’s Human Rights Commission, which is on record saying it will grant bathroom rights to transgenders according to their perceived gender when a case is brought before it,” Turner said.
“We salute CRG for being willing to speak out on behalf of the people of Montgomery County and our young people who will be affected by propaganda. We urge our friends to assist CRG in gathering signatures for this referendum,” said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy for the Family Research Council.
In a WND commentary, Olivia St. John wondered about why such legislation was even considered, “particularly for a small segment of people described by the American Psychiatric Association as disordered?”
The answer? she found: “The Transgender Law Center, or TLC – an organization dedicated to getting legal information into the hands of community members, attorneys, educators and others – designed a descriptive resource guide for transgender activists and their homosexual, lesbian and bisexual allies. The document, titled “Peeing in Peace,” promotes “gender neutral restrooms” in all sectors of society. Not surprisingly, it was partially funded by Clinton supporter George Soros and the Tides Foundation, generously supported by Teresa Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry.”
St. John continued, “The problem, according to TLC, is that many transgendered people have few safe places to go to the bathroom. They claim to ‘get harassed … and arrested in BOTH women’s and men’s rooms.’ One sufferer, who had clearly entered a restroom of the opposite sex, whined that he had been ‘dragged out by security guards.’
“Amusingly, this sounds as if the fuss is over ‘peeing rights,’ or about who has the right to urinate where. But think again. Seriously consider that your child is likely to find transsexualism not only discussed but also actively practiced in his public school at some point,” she said.
As WND reported, 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.
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.”
The county assumptions about the law’s application were challenged by 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.”
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.