Gender-Neutral Restrooms–A Dangerous Idea

Julaine Appling

2020 | Week of March 9 | Radio Transcript #1350

Earlier this month an 18-year-old senior at Rhinelander High School was arrested for child enticement, indecent exposure and fourth-degree sexual assault.  The assault happened on school property and presumably during the school day or at a minimum during a school-sponsored event.

The incident didn’t happen in some seldom-used room in the school or under the gym bleachers or the football-field bleachers. No, it happened in a school restroom.

This past October the administration decided to go with a so-called gender-neutral restroom. And, by the way, I have to believe this happened with the school board’s approval. So, they retrofitted an existing boys’ restroom and apparently, according to reports, had individual stalls that were divided floor to ceiling.  But these restrooms are designed so that anyone, male or female or those claiming to be the sex opposite of their biological sex, can all use them at any time. We’ve said for several years that these restrooms were a disaster in the making. Rhinelander isn’t the only district in the state with these restrooms. Many school districts have gone this route, thinking this is a way to accommodate the transgender population in their schools—a population that is miniscule in comparison to the total student population.

Because the male student who allegedly perpetrated the assault is an adult, his name and sex have been made public in the news reports. The victim is apparently a minor because we have yet to learn the sex, name or age of this student.

What makes this Rhinelander situation even worse is that when the District administration was asked if they had notified parents, they said they had notified the boy’s parents and the parents of the victim; but hadn’t notified all parents because they thought this was an isolated incident, not a random one.

First, that’s a judgment call on the part of the school as to this being isolated or random. Second, it is, in my opinion, as a former teacher, former private school administrator and as a former elected school board member for a Wisconsin school district, irresponsible and unacceptable that the district did not notify all parents in the school. Parents have every right to know this assault took place in a restroom, during school.  While the Rhinelander incident is the first one that has gone public, I’m quite sure other similar incidents have happened and have gone under the media radar screen.

In response to the situation, the Rhinelander administration closed the gender-neutral restroom, which was a wise move.  Will they keep it closed is another question altogether, especially when the pressure from the LGBT crowd begins. Will other school districts follow suit and close their gender-neutral restrooms? One could only hope.  This should be a wake-up call. Unfortunately, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for other districts doing the right thing.

I say that with good reason. While this is going on in Rhinelander, Madison Metropolitan School District has persisted in its policies that conceal from parents important information about their minor child’s choices regarding their sex or gender while at school. These policies go so far as to ask school staff and faculty to lie to parents about this issue.

This arrogant policy is wrong in so many ways. But when our friends at Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty wrote the district a letter informing them the policies were unconstitutional and trampled on parents’ rights, the district dug its heels in and refused to change these misguided and dangerous policies.

So WILL, on behalf of eight families, fourteen individual plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the Madison School District late last month.  Of course, it had to be filed in Dane County, which pretty much ensures the District will win round one of this legal battle, and maybe even round two at the appellate level. But when this case goes to the State Supreme Court, that will be a different story, I believe. Court observers tell us that court leans conservative currently by a 5-2 margin, a margin that would remain if Justice Dan Kelly is elected next month.

Frankly, I think at some point someone is going to bring a lawsuit in a situation like what happened in Rhinelander—and a case of that nature would most assuredly end up before our state’s highest court. Bear in mind that in both Rhinelander and in Madison—and talk about two very different school districts—elected officials on those school boards let these situations happen. Need I say it again? Elections have very real consequences.  Remember that when you vote on April 7.

For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Julaine Appling has taught on the junior high, high school, and college levels, and for five years was the administrator of a private school. In 1998 she was asked to become the Executive Director of Wisconsin Family Council, where her mission is to advance Judeo-Christian principles and values in Wisconsin by strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty. In addition to regularly being interviewed for Wisconsin television, radio, and newspapers, she is the host of "Wisconsin Family Connection," aired weekly on almost 50 radio stations in Wisconsin including the VCY America radio network.

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