Note: This is the third in a five-part series featuring Virginians whose rights would be directly affected by anti-LGBT bills now under consideration in the state legislature. All writers participated in a joint news conference held by the ACLU of Virginia and Equality Virginia at the Virginia Capitol on Jan. 19, 2016. It reflects the author's views and not necessarily those of the ACLU of Virginia.
I have to say, I never imagined that I would be a part of a press conference. Especially one that had anything to do with politics. Up until the last year, the type of politics I got involved with were debates between my children on who got to pick the radio station in the car.
But here I am today, both proud and saddened to stand before you. Proud, because today I get to tell you about my amazing daughter. She's brave, beautiful, smart, sassy, and so very strong.
Saddened, because across the street at the General Assembly, there are bills being considered that target her, try to segregate her, and potentially endanger her.
Transgender rights are human rights, and today I am here to advocate for my daughter and the rights of all transgender youth like her in Virginia.
This is not a trivial situation. Going to school every day is an act of courage by my daughter. There, she is required to use a separate bathroom, off of a closet. Which takes her 5 extra minutes every trip to get to, taking time away from her education.
Delegate Cole's House Bills 663 and 781 seek to further alienate, segregate, and potentially criminalize our transgender youth and the transgender community as a whole. In a school setting, these bills set the stage for intolerance. It turns peers into the potty police, equiring students to complain anytime they THINK someone of the opposite gender uses their restroom.
In a public setting, this puts my young daughter in danger. Her choice will be to share a restroom with men. Or use the women's restroom, where she is safe, and potentially face a fine and a visit by a police officer.
Since I would never allow my daughter in the men's bathroom alone, I would have to accompany her. Then I also would be placed in a potentially dangerous situation, and faced with a fine.
You see, gender isn't what is in your pants. It's what's between your ears. And anyone who saw my daughter enter a men's bathroom would be quite confused and hopefully, concerned.
All over the United States, we have schools that protect, and respect a student’s gender identity. And not a single reported incident. In Virginia, we are seeing more and more schools take a stand to protect transgender youth and staff. And much of our community supports these moves!
Mr. Cole's bills seeks to destroy that work and support.
I want my daughter to have a successful school experience. Part of that is feeling supported, respected, valued, and safe. Her school experience should not include bathroom monitors ensuring her anatomical sex. Going to the grocery store with my children should only require my purse, my list, and if my children are with me, my patience. It should not require a copy of our birth certificates.
These bathroom bills are discriminatory, and unnecessary.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
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