The Absurdity of Denying the Facts
Is there something about one’s biological sex that warrants treating it differently than other objective characteristics? Consider the following four scenarios.
Thought Experiment: Four Students Sue School for Discrimination
Student A is a 15-year-old white girl. She adores the Hispanic pop singer, Jennifer Lopez. She believes that Hispanic women are more physically attractive than white women, and that they are better singers.
So she begins to insist that her classmates and teachers call her “Maria Gonzales” instead of her real name. She marks “Hispanic” on all school forms — including standardized testing forms — that ask students to identify their ethnicity. When teachers and administrators refuse to call her “Maria Gonzales,” and when they insist that she mark “Caucasian” on her forms rather than “Hispanic,” she sues the school for discrimination based on ethnicity.
Student B is a healthy 16-year-old girl. Last year she was on the track team, but she finished in last place at every track meet. In order to cope with her embarrassment, she declares herself disabled. Her parents buy her a wheelchair, which she begins using at school. When school officials fail to provide her with a special, wheelchair-accessible desk and refuse to allow a handicapped parking space, she sues them for discriminating against her on the basis of disability.
Student C is a 12-year-old boy of average intelligence. But he fancies himself a genius. He insists upon being tested for the school’s “gifted” program. The results indicate that he does not qualify for the program. In their desire to please their child and spare him from disappointment, his parents exhaust all appeals processes. The child is still deemed ineligible for the gifted program. The family sues the school, alleging that it has failed to provide an appropriate education for their son and has inflicted emotional distress upon him.
Student D is a 15-year-old girl who wants to be a boy. She and her mother notify school officials that from now on, she will identify herself as a boy. School officials allow her to use the boys’ restrooms until parents begin to complain about a girl sharing the restroom with their sons. So the school adopts a policy requiring all students to use the bathroom designated for their biological sex. The girl sues the school, claiming that they have treated her unfairly because of her sex.
Readers are right to shake their heads in dismay at each of these scenarios. Facts are facts. Truth is truth, whether it suits our liking or not. A big part of the job of parents and teachers is to equip children to acknowledge this reality, and to deal with the resulting disappointments appropriately. There are limits to what we can change in life and what we can’t.
The Student D scenario sums up the case of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. In a disturbing ruling last week, a federal district court in Virginia held that the school did, in fact, violate the girl’s civil rights by refusing to allow her to use the boys’ restroom. It even took a step further, ordering the school to change the student’s transcripts to indicate that she is male.
It wasn’t so long ago that truth was universally considered a virtue. Now the very courts that are meant to find truth (so that they can administer justice), are telling our public schools to erase it — literally.
Factual Reality, or Just a Social Construct?
It may sound sophisticated to talk about sex as a mere social construct. It might be appealing to tell ourselves it is something fluid, that we can adjust to our liking. In fact, it might be quite nice to conclude that everything about our lives is malleable — that we can bend it all to our own will.
In The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis pointed out that “You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. … If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.”
Sex — like race, physical handicap and IQ — is no mere social construct for us to “see through.” It is objective fact. Those in our society who are ready to pretend otherwise are headed down a path of absurdity. They will ultimately be left stumbling, blindfolded, through a world full of facts that they pretend don’t exist.
Rita Dunaway is a constitutional attorney, the author of Restoring America’s Soul: Advancing Timeless Conservative Principles in a Wayward Culture, and co-host of the weekly radio program, “Crossroads: Where Faith and Culture Meet.”