Obama’s friendly, patriotic middle finger to North Carolina

May 21, 2016 Originally published on SFGate

It’s nothing short of heartwarming, in a deeply encouraging, patriotic kind of way, when one of the finest presidents of all time not merely stands up for basic civil rights, but does so in a flat-out, undeniable, test-me-and-see manner.

And lo, it does a moral conscience good.

Did you hear? The Obama administration just made the sharpest move yet to put a hard stop to this transgender-bathroom-use nonsense once and for all, by issuing a letter to every school in America, informing them, in no uncertain terms, that transgender students are both legally and morally allowed to use the school bathroom that aligns with their gender preference.

And if the schools disagree? If the intellectually puerile, homophobic governor of your unhappy state goes so far as to sue the federal government, if he whines and lies, if conservative lawmakers anywhere in the country defy the federal government and promote this savage new slice of homophobia anyway? The school risks losing its federal funding. Not to mention a federal lawsuit. Period.

It’s the law, after all. Title IX dictates that schools that receive federal funding cannot discriminate on the basis of sex – which, according to the Department of Justice, includes gender identity.

No conservative white male lawmakers allowed

No conservative white male lawmakers allowed

It’s both a strong move from the Obama Administration, and an entirely ridiculous one. After all, like millions of humans with a functioning soul, if you’re reading this, you likely recognize the bathroom-use thing is one of the more absurd battles in the history of gay rights, a complete non-issue exploded into an inane moral melodrama, simply because Christian fundamentalists have lost the war for the soul of America, and nasty, regional micro-battles like this one are all they have left.

You might assume, when you hear nutball Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declare, with a straight face, that the bathroom-use issue is “the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools,” that he’s not merely being hyperbolic, he’s being a shameless, bottom-feeding cretin, kowtowing to the most extreme ignorance of the Republican base. And you’d be absolutely right.

The irony of it all would almost laughable, if it wasn’t so devastating: Trans students do not prey on their fellow student in school bathrooms. That’s for deviant Christian pedophiles like Dennis Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the House. That’s for “upright” football-loving guys like Jerry Sandusky (and, by extension, “legendary” coach Joe Paterno, who knew of Sandusky’s abuses all along, and did nothing). That’s for adult staffers of elite private schools who’ve sexually abused hundreds of kids, if not more, over the decades, that you’ve never even heard about. And of course, that’s for simply staggering numbers of Catholic clergy, worldwide, since just about forever.

The truth remains the same as ever: The biggest threat to schoolchildren today is not, nor has it ever been, gay or trans students or teachers. It’s ignorance, it’s hate, it’s fear. But mostly it’s predatory adults – white males in particular – who sexually abuse kids by the thousands, under the threat of guilt, shame and God.

In other words: Want to protect your kids? Keep them away from fundamentalist male conservatives, and the clergy. Isn’t it obvious? In a way, the Obama administration is merely issuing a friendly reminder that any cruel, state-sanctioned denial of this basic truth is gonna cost you. In more ways than one.

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Mark Morford

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