The Department of Education in the state of Virginia has been required by law to change the way education facilities operate regarding transgender students.
The laws were drafted by numerous people whose gender pronouns would fit their name, i.e. he/him for men’s names and she/her for women’s, and could come into effect this year in schools, colleges, and universities across Virginia.
This decision comes in the wake of the new House of Representatives changing their rules on how gendered terms may be used, removing gendered language from a select few documents.
What do the new laws state?
The most concerning aspect of these new laws, according to many Virginia community organizations such as the Virginia Catholic Conference, is that these new laws would alter parents involvement in the life of their children at school, and endanger the bodily privacy and safety of all students.
One such law states that schools should be allowed to help students when it comes to “gender identity”, without having to inform the student’s parents, something that the VCC described as “harmful”.
Other draft laws state that teachers are not allowed to question the decisions of students when it comes to bathroom usage, as the new laws allow students to use whichever bathroom they please.
The laws also state that students do not need to provide proof of their gender identity, such as confirmation of surgery or “sex reassignment”.
The document details “sex reassignment” as “typically male or female, which a label that is assigned at birth based on physical and anatomical features such as genitalia and chromosomes”.
The document then goes onto detail that failure to use someone’s preferred pronouns, whether that be a student or a member of faculty, will be subject to disciplinary action, which directly infringes on an individual’s right to free speech, otherwise known as a First Amendment Right.
How far does the issue go?
Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor at Toronto University, came under fire after he argued a similar point when faced with the issue in 2016, after his refusal to use a student’s preferred pronouns when asked.
Dr. Peterson stated in an interview with the BBC that he did not object to transgender individuals being transgender or selecting their preferred pronouns.
Instead, his issue arrived from the threat of disciplinary action from his institution and enforcement from the state if he refused to use someone’s set pronouns, as he believed his right to freedom of speech was being infringed.
He believes, like many others do, that as soon as the state is allowed to dictate what people have to say, then the road to authoritarianism isn’t too far away.