Several conservative media outlets, including Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network, have reported that a transgender student in a Colorado high school has been harassing other girls in the locker room and restrooms, citing claims made by the anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
However, the school never found any verified cases of harassment.
As it turns out, the PJI never found any cases of harassment either, but simply considers the use of a women’s restroom by a transgender girl to be “inherently intimidating and harassing.”
The Transadvocate reports that the mother of the transgender student, who for privacy reasons is referred to as “Jane Doe,” is now speaking out about how the PJI is trying use the bogus story to paint her daughter as a sexual predator in order to boost its campaign to repeal a California law protecting transgender students:
When she went to her old school as herself, Jane flourished. When asked if she had experienced any bullying at the time she said, “Just some name calling.” Jane’s mother elaborated, “Before she transitioned, we would go to shopping and when she would try to use the male restroom, they would make rude comments.” I asked her if she meant that men in the restrooms would verbally abuse her daughter before she ever transitioned because she was perceived to be female even when trying to present as male. “She was scared to use the restroom. They made rude comments, language that she didn’t need to hear just because she was trying to go to the bathroom that she thought she had to be in.”
“Since she changed, she’s comfortable with life. She’s really feminine, but doesn’t do tons of makeup each day. She’s just a normal girl. If people see her on the streets, people don’t… didn’t know, you know? Before all of this stuff happened, none of this bothered anyone.”
When Jane’s mother refers to the “stuff that happened,” what she means is that one of the nation’s most influential ex-gay organizations suggested to the international press that her daughter was predator. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an ex-gay organization, needed someone to be their cautionary tale if they hoped to fight an effective battle to end protections for trans children in California and apparently decided that Jane fit the bill.
A media ambush is how the school, Jane and Jane’s family learned about the “harassment” charges. Let’s be clear about what this was: it’s a classic media gotcha moment. Prior to this hostile media encounter, apparently no allegations had been made about Jane.
“Jane is private about everything. She’s timid and shy and tends to be afraid to talk to people. That they’re saying that she’s going around harassing people… it’s just not true. The people who are doing these stories need to realize that the kid behind these stories has feelings and gets hurt.”
When the story about Jane broke, I couldn’t help but notice that conspicuously absent from the reports were any quotes by the school district, the high school, Jane or Jane’s parents. The reports only repeated PJI’s assertions. It seemed that no news outlet had bothered to fact check the claims made against this trans kid. So, I called the school’s Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti. I learned that the school did conduct an investigation and they discovered that the claims of harassment were false.
The law protecting transgender children, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed in August, says schools must treat transgender students as equal to cisgender students. A coalition of anti-LGBT groups calling itself “Privacy for All Students” has circulated 200,000 anti-trans petitions throughout California. Their goal is to collect 505,000 valid signatures by November 12, 2013. If they collect those signatures, it will stop the trans equality law from taking effect in January and put the civil rights of trans kids up for popular vote in November 2014.
The old Prop 8 cast of characters has organized as the coalition for the “Privacy for All Students.” Care to take a guess who’s one of the largest supporters of the coalition? Yup, you guessed it! It’s the Pacific Justice Institute.
The obdurate behavior displayed by PJI and media outlets like Fox News who continue to report false information about Jane should remind us all that there’s a reason California-Style trans protections for school children have existed – throughout the nation – for around a decade. Even in America’s most conservative areas, these California-style protections are viewed as reasonable. For example, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Dallas and Ft. Worth Texas public school districts all have California-style policies protecting trans kids. Moreover, these policies have been in effect for years without incident.
However, organizations like PJI won’t talk about that. What PJI will do is claim that if trans-equality policies for children go into effect, they will lead to government-sponsored X-rated scenes in all the public schools