Faith groups oppose California 'bathroom bill' for transgenders

Faith-based conservative groups are opposing a new bill passed by California's state legislature which would give boys who identify themselves as girls the right to use female restrooms and allow girls who identify themselves as boys to use men's facilities.

The bill deals with issues such as the right to play on sports teams and use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The California-based Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) said on its website, the bill would allow transgenders to participate in programs, activities and facilities that are normally same-sex segregated.

"The intent of this bill is not to help our children get a better education -it is to integrate and encourage alternative sexual lifestyles by utilizing the school system," according to CRI.

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"There is no protection for students that object to sharing bathrooms, showers and locker rooms with students of the opposite sex."

The executive director of CRI, Karen England, said in the San Carlos (CA) Patch newspaper that "no student should be forced to share bathrooms or change clothes in front of members of the opposite sex."

A spokesperson for the California Catholic Conference told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that the bill was unnecessary, saying that there are already laws on the books to protect transgender students.

Carol Hogan, the spokesperson for the conference, said that the issue should be handled by local school districts, not by lawmakers.

The bill's sponsor, San Francisco Democrat and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activist Tom Ammiano, admitted some students might feel uncomfortable under the new law.

"Will transgender students make other children uncomfortable? Perhaps," he wrote in an op-ed last month, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I don't want to minimize that, but new experiences are often uncomfortable."

"That can't be an excuse for prejudice," he said.

The proposed California law now moves on to the state Senate for consideration.

The California measure has drawn little attention outside of the state. However, conservative Christian groups are on record as being opposed to laws favoring transgender rights in the schools.

For example, the Family Research Council (FRC) is worried that such measures, which it says are dubbed "bathroom bills," would provide special protection for an umbrella category of transgender individuals which include transsexuals (people who have had same-sex surgery), transvestites (cross-dressers), and "drag kings and drag queens" (people who cross dress for entertainment purposes).

The FRC notes on its website that a person's sex is not a social construct, but an objective biological reality.

It also says that "no government should be so irresponsible as to deliberately compromise its citizenry's safety in order to appease minority demands based on personal sexual preferences".

Focus on the Family (FOF) indicates on its website that up until recently gay activists by their own admission have been reluctant to include transgendered people in its political goals because doing so would scare people away.

However, FOF says that gays are now comfortable with turning their focus on transgenders because of the cultural acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle and are pressing hard to add this category to existing laws.

FOF is particularly worried that "when gay rights collide with existing liberties, religious freedom nearly always loses".

Other states in the United States are also dealing with the issue of gender identity in the sch0ols.

For instance, the Massachusetts Board of Education issued a directive in February instructing schools to provide access to sports teams and bathrooms to students based on gender identity, according to Fox News.

Furthermore, it said that it would punish students who refused to affirm or support transgender students.

Catholic author and columnist Mary Rice Hasson wrote in the Catholic Stand webzine that the Board of Education had jeopardized the privacy and safety of other students.

"That's bad enough," she said. "The full impact of its decision is even worse."

"It's an insidious strategy that promotes a view of the human person utterly incompatible with Christianity," said Hasson.

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