This week, one board of education reacted to the recent landmark ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that transgender people can be protected under federal law from discrimination in education. Did the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in North Carolina vote to educate students on gender equality and trans rights? No.
It voted to let students brings pepper spray on campus, and it was pretty clear what motivated this. As board member Chuck Hughes explained, "Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in."
Read that several times if you wish — you can only come to one conclusion. These students are basically being given a free pass to assault trans people. Is it really too much to expect our leaders in education to foster acceptance and kindness in the younger generation? Promoting a culture of fear and hostility, when there isn't one shred of evidence to show students are at any risk whatsoever if trans people use the same restroom, suggests that this policy is motivated by one thing only: the anti-transgender attitudes of certain board members.
One board member, Travis Allen, did raise concerns about the "dangerous weapon" pepper spray, but he piped down when he realized he "could do more damage" with his laptop. Well, yes, of course. You could cause a hell of a lot of damage with a laptop if you smash it into someone's face. Pepper spray is dangerous, and if someone with asthma or a pre-existing heart condition was sprayed, the effects could be serious, even fatal.
It doesn't appear that any of the board members pointed out that if there's ever a case for a student carrying pepper spray, it's the trans students who are statistically far more likely to experience abuse or violence in a bathroom.
If you're a parent who is even considering giving your kid pepper spray (commonly used on criminals and vicious dogs) to ward off unwanted attention from trans students in the restroom, you might want to consider whether you want your child to be a decent human being or a cruel, inhumane bully.
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