David Lias

David Lias

As far as analogies go, this may be the world’s worst attempt to use one to try to get a point across, but I’m going to plow ahead anyway.

I am left-handed. I didn’t choose to be left-handed. I was born that way and I’ve lost count of the times that I wish the right-handed world could be just a little more understanding and a bit more accommodating of us southpaws.

Try to find a pair of scissors you can hold and effectively use with your left hand.

Ever use a pen with slow-drying ink? If you’re left-handed, prepare to eventually have that ink collect on your hand and eventually be unintentionally spread all over the place.

Guess where the shutter button and several other key controls on cameras are located? If you said the right side, meaning that cameras are designed to be used by right handers, you are correct!

I mention all of this because the Vermillion School District is currently attempting to craft a policy regarding restroom use, specifically, how to identify the best options that fairly treat students and other individuals who identify as a gender that differs from their assigned sex at birth.

Judging from some of the public comment that the school board has heard from some community members, there are many adults in the school district who believe that the wishes of students who identify as transgender shouldn’t be regarded at all.

As a southpaw, I can relate to some degree with what transgender individuals are up against. As I mentioned earlier: 1) I didn’t choose to be left-handed. I’m not any less of a human being, but 2) it’s not easy living in a right-handed world. And 3) I also fully recognize that this is an incredibly poor analogy.

In the scheme of things, being left-handed is a petty annoyance. It’s something one can joke about. And various levels of government certainly have never violated the civil rights of us left handers or been determined to pass legislation that takes those rights away.

Public bathrooms became the latest frontier in the LGBT rights movement about five or six years ago. At least a dozen states, including North Carolina, passed laws removing anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people; and some include “bathroom bills” requiring that the bathrooms a person uses is determined by his or her biological gender at birth.

LGBT and liberal groups like the ACLU decried these laws as discriminatory against transgendered persons, while conservative groups at the time voiced support for these laws as protecting privacy rights. These measures implicate important equal protection issues under the Constitution as well as federal laws like Title VII and Title IX that prohibit discrimination based on sex.

South Dakota almost got caught up in this, attempting to pass its own “bathroom bill.” Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed the legislation in March 2016. Had the bill been approved, South Dakota would have been the first state to bar transgender students from using bathrooms that don't match their biological sex.

Daugaard noted, in a statement that accompanied his veto, that schools are making decisions at the local level on how they can handle the concerns of transgender students.

He also noted that the proposed 2016 state law, which would have required transgender students who didn't want to use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms based on their biological sex to submit a request to their school for a "reasonable accommodation" would have also created legal liability for the state's schools by forcing them to adopt policies that counter recent interpretations of federal discrimination law.

The Vermillion School Board is in the process right now of crafting a restroom policy that will be fair and inclusive to everyone. In three separate meetings, board members have heard plenty of public comment from individuals in support of recognizing the civil rights of all students and also from people who seem convinced that school restrooms will be transformed into dens of evil and depravity if accommodations that recognize transgender students’ civil rights are made.

Some people truly appear to be fearful of such a policy in the Vermillion School District. This is a complex issue; board members are struggling with those complexities but hopefully, as they struggle, they can find ways to allay people’s fears.

This is also a time when patrons of the Vermillion School District who are concerned about the civil rights of all individuals, including those who are transgender, need to take the time to give input at future school board meetings.

The school board needs your help. Transgender students need your help.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.