Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

When two “rights” collide, who wins? For those who espouse moral relativism, the answer usually comes down to politics, utility, and cultural accommodation. Rather than principled debate, raw political power is wielded in order to learn who bests who. This is one of the signs of a morally confused worldview. For example, contemporary sexual revolutionaries often preach the legal protection of sexual identity at the expense of the security of sexual boundaries. Anything goes, they say.

Atherton High School in Kentucky serves as a good case study. Last month, the school’s leadership made headlines for approving a non-discriminatory measure that would allow a transgendered student, born male but identifying as female, access to the girls’ bathroom. The decision was highly controversial. According to the Courier Journal, many parents spoke about their students’ strong objections to the policy, but also said their children feared publicly opposing it.

Those students deserve sympathy. After all, we have already seen how the sexual revolution machine metes out retribution to those not progressive enough. Atherton’s new policy, however, is the opposite of progressive. It is a retrograde, irresponsible decision. Atherton’s decision fails its students, parents and community in three key ways.

First, it unnecessarily and unwisely sexualizes the school’s restrooms. It is rather interesting that given current discussion of women’s rights, no one on Atherton’s leadership is listening to the females that have grave objections. The presence of a biological male in the girls’ restroom is a sexualizing apparatus, regardless of how that student identifies.

Second, Atherton’s policy fails the common sense test. Restrooms are designed and segregated not to serve sexual identities but biological realities. The propriety of a male restroom is based on an objective, anatomical reality. The same is true of female restrooms. Atherton’s decision creates an environment in which the subjective sexual identity of a student overrides the objective standards of health and safety. This presents a troubling precedent: Based on this logic, how can the school readily define and identify inappropriate sexual activity? Does a student’s testimony of how he or she sees themselves serve as the determining factor in all school decisions?

Third, Atherton’s policy makes it easier for those with deviant intentions to act on them. Supporters of the policy are quick to respond by saying that teenage boys cannot, at will, gain access to the girls’ restroom by informing the school of their new “identity” (such a decision would normally be accompanied with counseling and an administrative process). But a non-instant process is not the same as a difficult one. What about the high school students that “try” different sexual behaviors in order to “discover themselves”? The best way to protect students is through objective, common sense measures with clear definitions and consistent standards.