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California Protects Transgender Kids as School System Rots

Here’s another California first: it’s the first state in the nation to pass a law protecting transgender kids from discrimination. At long last they can use any bathroom they want:

State Assembly Speaker John Perez said it put “California at the forefront of leadership on transgender rights”.

Massachusetts and Connecticut have state-wide policies granting the same protections, but California is the first to put them into law.

Now if the legislature could just somehow guarantee a decent education to the tens of thousands of children who fall through the cracks of its ineffective schoolrooms each year. But priorities, priorities! Why make a focused effort to help poor and working class kids get a decent start in life when you can help make upper middle class social activists feel powerful, in charge, and generally good about themselves?

To be clear, we aren’t in favor of bullying and prejudice. But we think the first thing a school system has to do is to deliver good basic education to the mass of kids. California’s governing class has a long record and a big history of putting huge amounts of effort and attention on complicated finishing touches while the foundations of its basic systems are falling apart. C.S. Lewis wrote about “the horror and neglect of the obvious”; our governing elites today, and not just in California, have it in the worst way.

Jesus of Nazareth put it this way when he was arguing with religious hypocrites who boasted of their finicky zeal for the small stuff even as they neglected the big picture: “You tithe mint and dill and cumin and neglect the weightier matters of the law.” That is exactly what California (and not only California) is doing today: daintily and painstakingly enforcing relatively petty and trivial regulations that affect only a small number of kids while letting tens of thousands fail in a dysfunctional school system that the state has no idea how to fix.

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  • Thirdsyphon

    I disagree. The *first* thing a school needs to do is deliver a safe and stable environment for the children entrusted to it. These policies discourage bullying and intimidation, which most parents don’t consider to be a “dainty” or “petty and trivial” goal. Schools don’t exist for the express purpose of protecting their students, any more than airlines exist for the express purpose of avoiding airplane crashes. . .but it’s a critical threshold issue for customer satisfaction, and if they fail in those missions then there’s not a lot that the family members of those affected will want to hear about how great the service was otherwise.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The point here is not whether or not adequate concern for the safety and security of some subgroups is adequately addressed. The point is whether this qualifies as a suitable priority, another matter entirely.
      This isn’t a matter of whether or not this group or that group gets its needs addressed, I think that we can all agree that some basic level of decency should be available to all people AS PEOPLE. The problem here is that we are making exquisite and delicate (and extremely expensive) adjustments to the enormous machine that is our educational system while the hulk falls apart in front of us. Suggesting that some suitable list of priorities be established isn’t neglecting the needs of others, it is simply common sense.
      My father (who had MS) was active in the early years of the handicapped rights movement, I have two gay cousins and one transgender in-law, so I am not exactly unaware of the needs of these groups. With this said, the idea that requiring a transgender child, for instance, is an injustice that requires the sort of time and effort to remedy that the overt failure of our school system (affecting millions of students) is simply unsupportable to me. One need only look at legislative atrocities such as the ADA (otherwise known as the Tort Lawyers Full Employment Act), to see where this sort of perverse priority setting gets us.
      Note: I am NOT advocating bullying of gays, mistreatment of trans, or neglect of the handicapped, but I am suggesting that some of these groups might have to wait in line for a more complete attention to their needs while we fix the bigger problems. Deal with overt, damaging discrimination, yes. Make safety (real physical safety, not hurt feelings) a priority certainly, but lets put our priorities in order before dealing with the so-called ‘first world problems’

      • Thirdsyphon

        I guess I don’t see why fixing these problems are mutually exclusive goals. The ADA actually required an investment of funds that could have been spent on other things, so I can see your argument working in that context, but this is just a policy change, the monetary cost of which will be negligible. . . to the extent that it exists at all.

        Fixing the education system so it actually educates children is a much harder problem, but I don’t think that the “bureaucratic energies” (if that’s not an oxymoron) expended on this issue were diverted from other concerns. My guess is that California has staffers assigned to cover antibullying and other student discipline issues, and that they’re different people from whoever is (hopefully) working on improving the quality of the education these students are actually getting.

        • f1b0nacc1

          It isn’t merely a matter of “bueraucratic energies” (an interesting oxymoron, with your permission, I will make use of that in the future!), but more a question of political capital and public attention span. If you don’t set priorities, then your 20 initiatives are just that…20 initiatives, each one of which has a roughly equal claim on the public’s attention and each one with a viable claim on politician’s priorities lists. Hence improving basic literacy simply becomes a competing priority to arranging for transgender kids to have their own bathroom choices (a farfetched point, I know), and since the advocacy group for this latter issue is small but vociferous, polititicans will feel roughly equal heat on both subjects.
          Your mention of the ADA brings up another problem. Sometimes policy initiatives can interfere with other priorities. The ADA, for instance, consumes resources at a ferocious pace, but also forces policies in place that make other priorities difficult to pursue. When you have to bastardize your testing process, for instance, to accomodate students with short attention spans, or learning disabilities (as defined by shrinks who often have an incentive to define as many students as possible as being learning disabled), your ability to pursue literacy is fatally compromised. Take a look at how parents game the system to have their little snowflakes labled as learning disabled in order to get them special accomodations, for instance…clearly this undercuts a schools ability to produce any sort of useful evaluation of classroom outcomes.

          • Jill Davidson

            As one of those school psychologists, I can tell you we are payed by salary, not by case. I get paid the same amount if I evaluate a hundred students or one. Each LD evaluation takes 12 hours of staff time on average. Each one found eligible has to evaluated again in three years or less time. So it is not advantageous to us to over identify students with disabilities – we have enough to do as it is.

          • f1b0nacc1

            First, it is ‘paid’, not ‘payed’…a school psychologist should know better.
            I didn’t suggest that you were paid by the case, and in fact I didn’t suggest that school psychologists (the bottom of the consultants food chain) were the ones making these comments. Activists, consultants, and those individuals with an axe to grind (the ones making the claims int he first place) certainly DO have an incentive to inflate the case numbers, even though you do not.

          • Jill Davidson

            Thank you for the spelling correction. Every school district’s reporting of case numbers is audited by the state’s department of education, and each state’s reporting is reviewed by federal auditors. Districts jeopardize state and federal funding to the extent they may be overidentifying students as eligible. The process by which a specific student is made eligible us subject to review by administrative law judges in due process hearings. Decisions about student eligibility are made by evaluation teams with parents, with school psychologists often chairing those teams. In most districts we are not paid as independent “consultants” but are paid as salaried staff members who are paid the same no matter how many students we identify as eligible. These numbers are easily countable, and must be reported to state and federal governments each year.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Corlyss provided a better rejoinder here than I could, so I will leave it to him.

    • gwvanderleun

      “The *first* thing a school needs to do is deliver a safe and stable environment for the children entrusted to it. ”

      In that case, armed guards instead of this blatherskite’s policy.

    • Corlyss

      “These policies discourage bullying and intimidation . . . ”

      Wanna bet?

      • Jill Davidson

        You do realize 40% of Trans students are thrown out of their homes by their parents, right? Reality is, most parents would rather their child die than be transgender.

        • Corlyss

          I’ve heard stats like that from advocacy groups. Suicide among gay and transgender teens is another one they like to throw around. Advocacy groups are inherently suspect when they start throwing around statistics that just happen to support their arguments. Parents have no legal right to disown underaged kids anywhere in these United States, no matter what said kid did or thinks. To the extent that happens, the state is not enforcing its own laws.

          • Jill Davidson
          • Corlyss

            I looked at the link. I’m finding myself making arguments these days I would have scoffed at 10 years ago, or even 5. As demonstrated by EPA, the Obamacare fiasco, the climate gate scandals, the radicalization of DoJ’s civil rights division, and the NIH’s own war on gun ownership to prove it poses an unacceptable health risk to the general public, there are now lodged within the federal government brazen advocacy groups for whom science and statistics have no other meaning than their usefulness in supporting the advocates’ cause. Science and statistics are loaded weapons to be manipulated any way they choose to achieve “social justice” results. I’d like to take the report at face value, but the last 6-7 years of relentless unmitigated lies, mostly by Democratic constituencies in support of their latest agenda items, have rendered me so skeptical of “proofs” and so cynical about the real motivations of the propounding advocates that I simply can’t do it. I understand why you are concerned and I get it that you believe what you say. I’m not questioning your sincerity. I hope you understand why I can’t believe the proffered evidence.

  • Evan Seitchik

    I have to say I disagree. A policy change like this guarantees a more supportive environment for transgender students and costs little to nothing—it’s not at all clear that it competes with other educational priorities that require significant reform and (of course) lots of state money that seems hard to come by in California these days.

    If I ever hear a California politician say “Ah yes, but don’t worry about the student-teacher ratio, we passed the transgender discrimination bill,” then I’ll go ahead and be upset, but frankly I think that’s unlikely.

    • gwvanderleun

      Oh blah, blah, blah….. stop it.

    • Corlyss

      Evan, don’t encourage them any in their “I want to buy the world a home and furnish it with love . . .” nonsense. [ The place is run by Lotus-Eating Democrats whose instincts for self-preservation have completely vanished. They’ll never run out of stupid ideas that make them sound like Tickle Me Elmo.

  • dawadu

    The time spent on this measure is time not spent on more important items unless it is of your opinion that allowing a extremely small percentage of students (<1%) to use any restroom they want to be a very pressing situation.

  • TheCynical1

    Priority setting is unnecessary in California where its politicians have incredible time, energy, resources, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.

    • avery12

      Hey with assets like that, what could go wrong?

  • Jim__L

    It’s like the San Jose police, who seem to have the time to post a radar-equipped speed limit sign on one block of a street, while failing to do anything about burglaries two blocks away, or a drug operation that’s setting up just down the street.

    This is next to the county coroner’s office and a special education school, mind you.

    • avery12

      Or like a major metropolitan mayor who prefers to ban jumbo sodas rather than bring up the sky high illiteracy rates in the city’s public school system.

      • Kavanna

        You mean “bring down” 🙂

        Another reason to steer clear of CA, where the future once happened.

        • Corlyss


    • Corlyss

      Well, if speeders hit and kill someone, they won’t have to carry the body far. Saves on gasoline, don’t you know. Lookin’ out for the residents’ wallets . . .

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