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Everybody’s Fancy*

19 Mar

YE6MG00Z

Everyone is entitled to be the person they wish to be; adults, teens, children; everyone. As long as you are not hurting anyone, you can live your life exactly as you see fit. Society does expect some level of conformity of course, mostly to avoid utter chaos. We can stomp our feet or roll our eyes at the notion of conformity, but we look rather adolescent doing so. The world is large and diverse; there are a lot of us living on this relatively small planet. We make certain accommodations to ensure a modicum of tranquility. Nobody enjoys waiting on line but as a society we’ve decided it’s efficient. We’d probably prefer if the bus took us directly to our front door, but that’s not how a public bus works.

Public education is just that; public. No one person’s rights are more important than that of anyone else. Yet recently there was a report of a public school being pressured to behave otherwise. A transgendered elementary school student’s parents wanted her to use the girls’ bathroom. This arrangement worked until it didn’t. As the student got older there were parents (and perhaps girl students) who grew uncomfortable. A gender neutral bathroom was provided by the school, but the parents found this option ostracizing. Teachers and administrators had always used the (adopted) female pronouns for the student, which would indicate efforts of inclusion.

On the surface one might think; “They’re kids! Let them use whatever bathroom they choose.” But there’s a reason that bathrooms are divided by gender. Sometime around age 5 (otherwise known as; school-age) children become aware of gender differences. If we asked the parents of the transgender student they would probably recall their child expressing frustration at having boy parts (versus girl parts) at around age 5. Children develop a (healthy) curiosity about gender (both physical and social) at this age. Role playing games start around this age (ex. house, office, etc.) They often explore their own and other’s bodies. There’s nothing perverse about the curiosity. But like all behavior in children, it needs to be monitored. Children have much of the same physical anatomy they will in adulthood, but that doesn’t mean they should be engaged in adult behavior. They also have the physical ability to smoke and tie one on. But even the most precocious child is not equipped for adult situations.

It is easy to think of a child (at any age) feeling coerced and/or frightened by situations. It is also easy to imagine a bathroom frequented by children of all grades and unmonitored by adults. All kinds of things happen unbeknownst to adults in a school bathroom. This in no way is to suggest that a transgendered student is any kind of aggressor. Far from it. But why should a girl child be exposed to a biological boy child in the most private of ways? What if that girl child is significantly younger than the transgendered child? What if the girl child has been victimized at home? In other words; how are the rights of one student more valid than that of another?

The fact is that they are not. No one person is entitled to anymore than anyone else. Equal opportunity means just that; equal. Sticking to the bathroom motif; anyone who has stood on line for a public restroom because the people in the front of the line avoid the handicapped accessible stall, know this to be true. The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted so that people had equal opportunity, not so that there was a private unoccupied bathroom stall available at all times. Everybody’s fancy, everybody’s fine and everyone is equal. We need to accept (not tolerate) all people. We need to allow for all points of view. But we also all need to live together, and sometimes that means not getting every last thing one wants. Sometimes we need to consider how others are impacted by our behavior. Sometimes we need to use the private bathroom.

*Some are fancy on the outside.
Some are fancy on the inside.
Everybody’s fancy.
Everybody’s fine.
Your body’s fancy and so is mine.

Boys are boys from the beginning.
Girls are girls right from the start.
Everybody’s fancy.
Everybody’s fine.
Your body’s fancy and so is mine.

Girls grow up to be the mommies.
Boys grow up be the daddies.
Everybody’s fancy.
Everybody’s fine.
Your body’s fancy and so is mine.

I think you’re a special person
And I like your ins and outsides.
Everybody’s fancy.
Everybody’s fine.
Your body’s fancy and so is mine.

Fred M. Rogers (1967)

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Childhood, Cultural Critique, Well-Being

 

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2 responses to “Everybody’s Fancy*

  1. overextended

    March 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    As a public educator, I am constantly amazed at how the rights of one (with the loudest parents) will always surpass the rights of the masses…aka…the “regular” child. I have also learned that no matter how hard you try, it will never, ever be good enough.

     
    • brendatobias

      March 20, 2013 at 7:29 am

      I appreciate you comment and suspect that some of your colleagues echo your sentiment. Being inclusive & creating accessibility is a great thing. But preferential treatment rarely is the path to that end.

       

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