BOSTON, February 19, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has issued orders to the state’s K-12 public schools requiring them to permit “transgender” boys and girls to use the opposite sex’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and changing facilities as long as they claim to identify with that gender.
Many elementary schools in smaller Massachusetts towns include children from kindergarten through eighth grade, making it possible for boys as old as 14 to share toilet facilities with girls as young as five.
Under Chester's leadership, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released an 11-page document on Friday outlining this and other new guidelines giving “transgender” students special status and privileges in Massachusetts schools. Some family advocates are calling the document, which was prepared with assistance from homosexual and transgender advocacy groups, “the most thorough, invasive, and radical transgender initiative ever seen on a statewide level.”
The policy does not require a doctor’s note or even parental permission for a child to switch sexes in the eyes of Massachusetts schools. Only the student’s word is needed: If a boy says he’s a girl, as far as the schools are concerned, he’s a girl.
“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement says. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’” That evidence, according to the document, can be as simple as a statement given by a friend.
That means, according to the newly issued school policies, that boys who say they identify as girls must be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts.
They must also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. The same is true for girls who say they are boys.
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The document was issued to clarify the schools’ obligations in light of “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” a law that went into effect last July. That bill amended Massachusetts law “to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity.”
However, Brian Camenker, spokesman for government watchdog group MassResistance, told LifeSiteNews the DESE’s new directives go far beyond what the law requires.
Camenker pointed out that the only requirement the Gender Identity bill imposed on schools was to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policies, alongside other protected groups such as religious or ethnic minorities. Under the DESE’s policy, however, self-identified transgendered students will have more rights than other students, including the right to access bathroom and changing facilities of the opposite sex and play on the opposite sex’s sports teams.
Not only that, but students who object may be subject to punishment under the state’s new “anti-bullying” law, which, like the new school policy, was written with the help of homosexual and transgender activist groups.
Under that law, any outwardly negative reaction against transgenderism can now be considered bullying, and subject to discipline and punishment, according to Camenker.
“The directive is clear that there is to be no tolerance for students who become uncomfortable or upset at these situations being pushed on them,” Camenker wrote. “The school's approach is to be unyielding to any such discomfort, and to re-educate those students to have more ‘acceptable’ reactions and values.”
“[It] is completely natural for a child to feel very uncomfortable using a female name for an individual they know to be male, seeing a boy in girl’s clothing, or feeling it’s unfair that a boy is competing athletically as a girl,” Camenker added. “These feelings are now considered by the school to be backwards and disruptive.”
Andrew Beckwith, attorney for Massachusetts Family Institute, called the document’s definition of transgender “extremely broad.”
“If a male student tells his teacher he feels like a girl on the inside, the school has to treat him in every way as if he actually is a girl,” Beckwith said. “School personnel may be forbidden from informing the parents of their child’s gender decisions, and students can even decide to be one gender at home and another at school.”
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, worries that the new policy could put girls at particular risk for violations ranging from privacy invasions to sexual assault.
“The School Commissioner’s first duty is to protect all students, from kindergarten to grade 12, not endanger them,” Mineau said in a statement. “The overriding issue with this new policy is that opening girls’ bathrooms to boys is an invasion of privacy and a threat to all students’ safety.”
The DESE expressed awareness that parents and students would likely have concerns, but they dismissed such feelings as invalid.
“Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility,” the document concedes, but then admonishes administrators, “this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”
The Massachusetts Family Institute reminded the public that during debate, the gender identity law that led to this new policy had been called the “Stealth Bathroom Bill” by critics. At the time, the part of the law explicitly opening all public bathrooms to self-identified transgender people was removed in response to concerns about safety and privacy.
In schools, however, the bathroom provisions will now effectively be put back in.
Democratic State Rep. Colleen Garry has introduced amending legislation to the current law intended to force people to use restrooms and locker room facilities consistent with their anatomical sex.
“Like many of my colleagues, I am very concerned about Commissioner Chester’s directive to open public school bathrooms to all genders,” said Garry. “This was not the intent of the Legislature, and we need to pass legislation that clearly defines the use of such facilities.”