Parents Must Win the Bathroom Wars

For our kids' privacy, dignity, well-being — we must take a stand

by Meg Meeker, MD | Updated 14 Jun 2016 at 10:11 AM

As the Obama administration pushes to allow genetic boys to use girls’ bathrooms and vice versa, we parents must speak out. This is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences for children with or without gender dysphoria.

Children's bathrooms are no place for governmental influence. The percent of children who struggle with real transgender issues — such as Caitlyn Jenner has — is extremely low. No one knows the exact number, but it's at least less than 0.3 percent of Americans.

These children are seriously hurting and need far more help from adults than a change in bathroom rules.

Here are just a few of the problems we must recognize.

1.) This mandate makes gender-dysphoric children bigger targets for bullying.
Imagine a 14-year-old girl — who identifies as a boy — goes to the boys' bathroom. She can't use the urinal, so she goes into a stall and sits down. Do you really think other 14-year-old boys in the bathroom are going to walk out without giggling or making fun of her? 

Of course not. They will mock her ruthlessly.

2.) The privacy of children without gender identity issues is unprotected.
This is your daughter, mothers and fathers. She goes to the restroom to change her shirt and a 16-year-old boy, saying that he identifies as a female, joins her in the bathroom. She pulls her shirt off and he sees her bare chest.

She becomes embarrassed, as well she should. Does this girl — your daughter — not deserve protection of her privacy? Of course she does.

Why can't he see what the child is talking about? Why does he see a girl but the girl says she's a boy?

3.) Young cisgender children will mistrust their abilities to accurately assess life around them.
When Johnny, a third-grade boy, sees a child in his class who looks like a girl but calls herself a boy, he is confused. Why can't he see what the child is talking about? Why does he see a girl but the girl says she's a boy?

Since Johnny is cognitively immature, he doesn't see that his classmate has gender dysphoria — he sees a girl. The teacher calls the girl "he" and the student calls herself "he," but that's not what Johnny sees. He concludes that he can't size things up very well. As the year goes forward, he will doubt is ability to accurately assess many situations around him and this is very dangerous.

4.) Highlighting transgender children in an already hyper-sexualized culture causes children to believe their sexual and gender identities trump their identities as human beings and children of God.
This is a travesty. Young children who hear confusing talk about gender identities believe adults focus on this because it is more important than their character or value as a person.

5.) The bathroom issue makes a mockery of real transgender children.
Imagine you are a third grader and the teacher asks everyone in the class which gender he/she identifies with. Many students notice the children identifying as transgender get more attention. They want the attention too — so non-dysphoric kids declare themselves transgender.

Related: Transgender, or Trying to Get Attention?

How does this make the true transgender kids feel? Silly and poorly understood. The class becomes a mishmash of children saying things to get attention. Any adult who doesn't believe the power of suggestion profoundly alters a developing child's mind needs to sit in on a class of kids of any age for a day.

Any honest adult can see right through this bathroom issue. It isn't about helping children, because they all lose. This is an agenda that uses an extreme minority of children to redefine masculinity and femininity into gender sameness.

Politicians have not devoted their lives to advocating for children. They don't care about your kids or mine.

Ironically, these are the very people trying to defend a child's wishes to identify with masculine or feminine! Advocates for bathroom rule changes state, on the one hand, that male and female biology don't matter; therefore, children should choose bathrooms according to their feelings.

Yet on the other hand, these same folks defend a child's right to identify with masculinity or femininity of their choosing. Tearing apart gender identification while propping it up when a child wants to switch is oxymoronic. Or, just moronic.

Politicians, including President Obama, have not devoted their lives to advocating for children. They don't care about your kids or mine. They care about shifting cultural values even at the expense of children. 

Maybe you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, medical professional, youth minister, or coach. You and I both know what our intuition tells us: We must fight to protect our children's privacy. So speak up. We must win this battle for our kids.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, "The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids."

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