Recent events in California and South Dakota illustrate perfectly the school gender conundrum.
Students at Buchanan High School in Fresno, California, are protesting the school’s dress code after the local school board voted against recommendations to allow boys to have long hair and earrings and against removing language in the code that says dresses and skirts are for girls. Students switched gender norms for a day following the school board’s decision.
Some students say that the dress codes are “sexist or non-inclusive to transgender students and those who don’t conform to one gender.” According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s 2013 National School Climate Survey: “Nineteen percent of the 7,800 students surveyed in the middle and high schools across the country said they were prevented from wearing clothing deemed ‘inappropriate’ based on their gender.”
The legislature in South Dakota recently passed a bill (HB 1008) that would reserve public school bathrooms for boys and girls based on their biological sex:
Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex. In addition, any public school student participating in a school sponsored activity off school premises which includes being in a state of undress in the presence of other students shall use those rooms designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex.
The legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House (58-10) in January, and then passed the Senate (20-15) in mid-February. Republicans have huge majorities in the South Dakota legislature, and the governor, Dennis Daugaard, is a Republican as well.
But earlier this month, the governor vetoed the bill. This after he met with transgender students following protests from homosexual advocates. In issuing his veto, Gov. Daugaard complained that the bill sought to impose statewide standards on “every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.” It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.
As if the state of South Dakota Dept. of Education doesn’t impose statewide standards on local school districts when it comes to everything else.
I note also that “similar bills have been proposed in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.”
The school gender conundrum will only get louder and more ridiculous. However, there is a solution, and it has nothing to do with forcing kids at public schools to dress a certain way or use a particular bathroom.
Abolish the public school system.
This is actually the solution to every problem with public schooling. All schools should be private schools. Every last one of them. Whether they are religious, ethnic, secular, classical, home, bilingual, pagan, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, or LGBT doesn’t matter—as long as they are privately operated and privately funded.
It is not the proper role of government to set up a school system. And no American should be forced to pay for the education of any other American’s children.
In a truly free society where all education is privately operated and funded, it would be up to each individual school to institute its own dress code and control access to its bathrooms. Some schools may require all students to wear uniforms. Others may have no dress code at all. Some schools may require that bathroom use is strictly limited to one’s biological sex. Others may provide special gender-neutral bathrooms. With a free market in education, the possibilities are endless. If parents don’t like the dress code at one school, they can enroll their children in another school. If parents don’t like the restroom policy at one school, they can enroll their children in another school. If parents don’t like the dress code or restroom policy at any school, then they can hire a tutor to educate their children or teach their children themselves. No protests, no lawsuits, no controversy, and no conundrum.
And the same goes for any other school-related issue: electronic devices, military recruiters, lunch menus, head coverings, discipline, shirts with offensive messages, Bible reading, prayer in classrooms and at football games, and the teaching of evolution, climate change, religion, and sex education.
But having schools that are privately owned and privately funded is not enough. The government (federal, state, and local, but especially federal) should have no control whatsoever over any school or the education of any child. No standards, regulations, mandates, rules, math and science initiatives, grants, loans, accreditation, breakfast or lunch programs, requirements, vouchers, or certification. And certainly no Common Core, Higher Education Act, Elementary, and Secondary Education Act, or even a Department of Education.
The solution to the school gender conundrum is educational freedom consistent with a private property society.
Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest book is The Making of the King James Bible—New Testament. Visit his website.
The above originally appeared at LewRockwell.com and is reprinted with permission of the author.