ON JAN. 25, 2021, the Manchester Board of School Committee adopted a policy regarding “transgendered and gender non-conforming” students. On Feb. 8, 2021, it defeated Committeeman Arthur Beaudry’s motion to reconsider. After both votes, Mayor Joyce Craig issued statements praising the board for “protecting” these students from “discrimination.”

If that’s true, then we’re forced to conclude that the following are sources of discrimination requiring protection:

Parents. Apparently, parents perpetrate prejudice against their own children. The policy prohibits personnel from notifying parents of their children’s “transgender status or gender nonconforming presentation to others.” The policy also instructs staff on how to avoid disclosing the student’s non-conforming behavior when talking to parents.

Health Class. When students are separated by gender, presumably to be taught about their biological body parts and how they work, those who identify as something other than their actual biological gender are to be allowed to attend the class that corresponds with their identified gender. Kids may now go to class to learn about parts they don’t have and likely will never have, and, if they acquire them, will never work like the real parts they learned about when attending the lessons they “identified with.” Remember, mom and dad are barred from knowing their child is in a class meant for the opposite sex.

Bathrooms. Prior to this policy, bathroom use was determined on a case-by-case basis by the principal. Neither during my four years on the school board, nor before or since have I been made aware of any “bathroom discrimination” complaints. The system worked because the principals knew the kids. The new policy mandates that students be allowed to use whatever bathroom they want, the principal’s judgement notwithstanding. And remember, mom and dad aren’t allowed to know that their child is using the other sex’s bathroom.

Interesting thing about bathrooms: be they for boys or girls, they all have private stalls. Given that, why must biological boys be allowed to use girls rooms or visa versa when their business can be done privately? Why is it necessary to force their integration or spend millions to create unisex facilities? If a student is so uncomfortable being in the bathroom made for their biological sex, why can’t the principal continue to make available the single stall bathrooms used by staff as was done for decades before this policy?

Sports and locker rooms. The policy mandates that children be allowed to play on the sports teams and use the locker rooms of the gender they identify with, not their actual biological sex. This has created real and well documented problems across the country, especially in girls sports where biological boys have routed their female counterparts in competition, depriving them of victories, championships and scholarships.

If we’re “just” talking about gym class, mom and dad, who probably know about their child’s gender identity if they’re competitive athletes, can’t be told what’s going on and, somehow, according to the policy, the transgendered student’s differing gender identity is to be kept “confidential” from the other students, who, if they’re uncomfortable with a member of the opposite sex being in their locker room may, themselves, be provided with an accommodation, according to the district’s legal counsel. Got that?

This policy uses discrimination to “protect” against discrimination by enshrining discrimination in policy. Moreover, it portends numerous unintended but obvious consequences, including lawsuits from any variety of aggrieved parties.

The prohibition on informing parents of a child’s behavior in school discriminates against parents. Parents have a right to know and schools have a duty to inform.

The removal of the principal’s discretion in addressing bathroom and locker room concerns discriminates against principals. They have proven themselves capable of handling these situations.

The forced integration of sports clearly puts biological girls at a competitive disadvantage against biological boys. Therefore, it discriminates against girls. It is simply unfair to expect girls to compete with boys, who are currently allowed and capable of competing on boys teams. Expecting that biological boys play on boys teams is no more discriminatory than expecting wrestlers to only compete within their weight class, JV and varsity teams to only play other JV and varsity teams or schools to compete within their divisions. These things guard against unfair competition.

This policy isn’t about protecting anyone from discrimination. It’s a divisive, “politically correct” ploy that creates discrimination. As such, it’s unlikely to make things any better for those it’s supposed to protect, while likely making things worse for them and everybody else.

Former at-large Manchester alderman, school committeeman, and charter commissioner Richard H. Girard is the publisher of girardatlarge.com.  

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