Final Days of Legislative Session: Protecting Human Life—Good; Protecting Students’ Privacy Rights—Not Good

Final Days of Legislative Session: Protecting Human Life—Good; Protecting Students’ Privacy Rights—Not Good

2016 | Week of February 22 | #1138

Last Thursday, Governor Walker signed two pro-life bills into law. Both bills deal with redirecting taxpayer money away from Wisconsin’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.  Together the two bills have the potential of removing at least $7 million a year of taxpayer money away from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. That’s significant by anyone’s standard. I’m glad legislative leadership got these bills to the floor and that a majority of representatives and senators voted in favor of them. I’m thrilled to report on this legislative milestone as this legislative session quickly winds down

However, there’s another bill that didn’t meet such a wonderful end; and the fallout from not passing this bill will be significant. The bill is Assembly Bill 469, the “Student Privacy Protection Bill.” This bill would have required all Wisconsin public schools to designate restrooms and locker rooms as being for one specific sex—either girls or boys—and would have also required students to use the facilities that correspond to their biological sex as based on their reproductive organs and as recorded on their birth certificates.

If a student wanted to use a different facility, then his or her parents would have needed to request such from the school—and the school would have been obliged to honor that request in one of two ways: either by allowing the student access to a single-user facility or access to a multi-user gender neutral facility with stalls having floor to ceiling dividers made from non-transparent material and having locking doors.

I believe this reasonable bill addresses a problem that is very serious and is not going away. In fact, I believe the problem is going to get worse—and will rather quickly do so. I believe the problem will soon be in your local schools. And the Wisconsin legislature will be at least partly to blame because they didn’t this bill.

Senator Steve Nass and Representative Jesse Kremer introduced the bill this past fall. The Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, held a public hearing on the proposal on November 19.  Typically, the Committee would have taken action fairly quickly after a public hearing. Not on this bill. Why was there no vote to move this bill out of the Assembly Education Committee and on to the full Assembly over the last 3 months? It happened because out of the 11Republicans on this 16-member committee, there weren’t 9 who supported the bill. Apparently, at least 3 Republicans on that committee and a great number of Republicans in the State Senate where absolutely nothing happened with this bill, are ok with boys using the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and girls using the boys’ facilities.

No one should be ok with that. No one. It’s not right. It’s not normal. It’s an invasion of the privacy rights of students. It’s fraught with potential for all kinds of problems. Students shouldn’t be subjected to this and their parents should be outraged. Yet school districts all across this state are passing policies right now under the guise of equality and anti-discrimination that affirm this behavior. Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled state legislature sits on its hands intimated by the media and by those with a progressive agenda—surely not by those who typically vote for conservatives.

Making matters worse, abuses of such policies are beginning to happen. Recently, in Seattle, where there is a policy giving transgendered people the right to use the restroom or locker room of the sex they identify with, a man dressed as and clearly looking like a man, entered the women’s locker room at a public swimming pool and began disrobing. Women and even young girls were in the locker room at the time. When this man was asked to leave, he said the law allowed for him to do this.

No one has challenged his assertion—and that’s because that’s exactly what such policies permit. The policy doesn’t stipulate that the person must be dressed as the opposite gender or have mannerisms typically associated with the opposite gender or wear a sign saying, “I’m transgendered.” Such policies typically simply say people can use the facilities of the sex they “identify with”—whatever that means.

Probably sooner than we think, some school in Wisconsin is going to have a similar situation. That could be avoided if the state legislature had taken action this session rather than running scared. I hope parents are outraged by the policies being enacted in their local schools and are likewise outraged by the unwillingness of the state legislature to tackle this issue head on. Like the pro-life bills, this is a bill that should have passed and become the law—because all students deserve to have their privacy rights protected at school.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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