I'll admit that young transition is both a scary and exciting thought to me. Children who know who they are - deep down, at a level of passion few people reach in adult lives, let alone as kids - should be free to express their gender identity. The actual bit of discrimination is miniscule - in the interest of safety, the school had asked the girl in question to use a unisex bathroom instead of the girl's bathroom. As an educator, I understand this. As a transgender person, I understand why this is wrong:
The discrimination in question first occurred in October 2007 when the child was in the fifth grade at Asa Adams School. Until then, she was allowed to use the girls' bathroom, although she was biologically male. But that fall, the transgender child was followed into the girls room by a male student who had "previously started to harass her by stalking her and calling her 'faggot,'" according to the Maine Human Rights Commission investigator's report.
After the second such episode, the boy was suspended and removed from the transgender child's class. At that point, school officials told the transgender child that she had to use a single-stall faculty bathroom at the other end of the school, and that was when her parents decided to take the matter to the Maine Human Rights Commission.
But that's not the point here. There's a saying among schoolteachers about children getting in trouble: there is always a reason for bad behavior. With that being said, I want to bring attention to our pawn-using, political statement making Fail-of-the-Month: the provoker's Grandpa, Paul.
Paul Melanson, grandfather of the boy accused of harassing the transgender student, also filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, saying that not allowing his grandson to use the girls bathroom or the faculty bathroom as the other child did was a violation of his grandson's right to public accommodation under the Maine Human Rights Act. Melanson had given his grandson permission to use the girls bathroom as long as the transgender student was doing so, according to the report. [. . .] "It ticks me right off that you're letting a kid run the whole system," he said.
There you have it, folks. Grandpa Mendelson uses grandson to make political statement about transgender people. Way to go, dude! Now you've taught your grandson homophobia, transphobia, and you even spared enough time to belittle a child in need while you did it! Truly, Sir, you are a gentleman and a saint!
Paul is now trying to organize a coalition of mothers to protest the school's decision - namely, the fact that they validate the transgender child's need to use the bathroom:
Melanson is now trying to inspire Maine moms to protest the decision, which he thinks is wrong -- and unfair to both boys and girls.
"Little boys do not belong in the little girls room, and vice versa," he said. "This isn't just about my kid. A lot of children have come up to me and said that this isn't right."
This classic opposition argument falls back on the bandwagon approach: everyone says it isn't right, so it isn't right. Nevermind that the medical community has proven, time and time again, that transgender people are best served by being allowed to live in the gender role of their choosing. Oh no! The little girl's needs do not matter, because everyone says they do not matter. Simple as sugar cream pie!
He even arranged for time with the school board to discuss the issues, which he promptly turned into a circus. I love the deliberate spin placed on this article - it's almost a parody of itself. Poor, pitiful man, snubbed out by a school board uninterested in hearing about reverse discrimination! The tear-jerker closing quote really pours on the schmaltz, too:
"We thank God for one courageous grandfather. Thank you, Paul Melanson, for taking a stand for common sense."
"'I'm going to keep fighting it,' Melanson said. 'It's going to continue. I want the law straightened out.'"
It's sad that someone could be this callous and self-serving in advancing his political beliefs. I'm fine with opposition arguments, as they are often weak and carry little in the way of substance beyond "I'm not comfortable with it." But dragging a child, who doesn't understand the gravity of the situation, into your political aspirations, ultimately ending in a suspension and national attention? That's just too far.
Are we so disgusting and sinful to these people that they are willing to sacrifice their own family to shut us up?