This week, the Era of American Deenlightenment rolled on with our “President” signing an executive order rolling back federal guidelines for schools in regards to transgender students and their access to restrooms. America, it seems, in its rush to “fix” an ailing educational system has decided that issues like inequality in school funding, the re-segregation of public schools, and inaccurate history taught in text books were problems that can wait while we figure out just who gets to pee exactly where and how.
All of this is the culmination of a years-long fight by some to “protect” children in schools from being somehow injured by their exposure to non-gender conforming students because God, ew, and that’s just weird. In this pitched generational battle of identity and acceptance, we’ve somehow decided that the restroom of all places would be where we plant the flags and die on swords.
The school restroom.
Admittedly, I haven’t been in school in quite some time, but if I recall correctly, the restrooms have always been some of the most highly regulated spaces within the learning environment. You had to ask to go there. You needed a pass to walk down the hall to get there. You were limited on the amount of time you could spend there. And if you tried to go too often, the teacher would tell you no or send you to the nurse. I mean, yeah, there were always rumors of people who got caught smoking in the restrooms and the urban legends of kids running illicit empires from the stalls, but for the most part it’s a place where you go, do your business, wash your hands, and then leave.
However, to some, the school restroom is a sacred place where, although lacking empirical evidence to support their assertions, children are now at risk because complex questions of gender and identity, place and purpose, and matters of self-actualization must be repressed so long as someone might maybe perhaps see something while someone else is expelling waste from their bodies.
I’m not here to claim I know the answers. In fact, I’m kinda late to the party in understanding the complexities of gender identification and how that impacts the lives of people in society and even some folks that I know. I cannot and will not speak as an expert of that.
What I can speak as an expert on is dumbass arguments with flimsy rationale and let me just say, the folks fighting to keep school restrooms “safe” from trans kids are pretty dumb and flimsy.
And that’s where Jameis Winston comes in.
Apparently someone in a position of authority and influence within a school thought that it would be a pretty solid idea to invite possible rapist, actual crab leg thief, and erstwhile NFL Quarterback Jameis Winston, to speak to a room full of fifth graders.
What qualified Mr. Winston to speak to a room full of kids, you ask? Is it his extensive experience working with schools to develop curriculums that fuse athletics and academics? Nope. Is it his advanced study of child psychology that gives him special insight into the cognitive needs of children? Nuh uh. Is it the years he spend in the classroom trying to just get it right to breakthrough to someone? Hell nah.
It’s because he throws a football real good and, in America, throwing a football real good is as good a reason as any to have an audience with our children.
And let’s just say that he lived up to expectations…
Video of the “motivational” speech was published on the Tampa Bay Times website. “All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” he began, off to a rip-roaring start. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now, a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this. One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.”
He then went on to add that the “ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle.” The class then reluctantly followed him in a chant of “I can do anything I put my mind to.”
This asshole, who took time out of his busy crustacean burgling schedule to speak to a room full of kids, the same asshole who has also been accused of sexual assault, decided to play the antiquated gender card to run a Boston on the developing minds of some children.
It’s hard enough to do the job of raising a kid who is able to rationalize who they are and have the confidence to carry it. It’s even harder to raise a daughter who sees themselves as able to do more than what society or some pink sparkly toys tell them they can be. And that job is made infinitely more difficult when some dolt shows up in your kid’s classroom and tells the boys they’re strong and tells the girls to shut up.
And we’re operating under the assumption that every one of the children in that room is heterosexual, gender conforming, and self confident.
So, for those of you keeping score at home; Asshole QB Telling Girls to Shut Up: 21, Transgender Kids Trying to Pee: 0.
Which brings me to my point; while we’ve allowed the government to wage a very public war on a very private act, we’re also complicit in letting people come into our schools and personally perpetuate destructive thinking.
Who do you think can cause your kid more harm; the eight-year-old that was born a boy but is now coming to realize that she’s a girl (or vice versa), of the multi-millionaire celebrity athlete who tells boys to flex muscles and girls to be quiet? What’s the greater threat to the health and safety of our children; self discovery or an avatar or rape culture laying the groundwork for more rape culture?
America can do better and should do better. We claim to be a place that values shielding the weak from the strong. We claim to be a place that accepts everyone for who and what they are. We claim to be forward thinking.
But on the same week we told trans kids they better hold it in, we gave a platform to a jerk who articulated a patriarchal line of letting it all out.
For the record, if I got a note from my daughter’s school tomorrow saying that there was a trans child who needed to use a bathroom, I wouldn’t sweat it. But if I got a note saying that Jameis Winston was coming to sign autographs, she’d stay home sick that day. We gotta protect our kids from the real threats.