Boys and Girls

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Wendy Hodge

By WENDY HODGE

My dad used a term as far back as I can remember … “passive soldier.”

The way he said it sounded like a curse word to my young ears. “There’s nothing worse than a passive soldier,” he would say. “When something important is at stake, the last thing you need on your side is someone who is afraid to stand up for what’s right.”

And today there are very important things at stake in this country. In fact, there are important things at stake right here in our small city. Our high school has more than a dozen restrooms, labeled either ‘boys’ or ‘girls.’ But what I just learned is that those labels are completely pointless. It turns out that boys can use the girls’ restroom if they decide they want to … and girls can use the boys’ restroom. That determination has been left up to the student’s discretion.

When I first heard this, I was reluctant to believe it. So I called the school to get the facts straight. I won’t waste your time with the red tape it took to get a straight answer, but I will tell you that I did finally get the bottom line from the principal. This was his statement: “Because of federal regulation, boys are allowed to use the ladies’ room. There is nothing I can do about it. My hands are tied.”

And so the stories I’ve heard are true. Boys, wearing skimpier girls’ clothes than the girls themselves are allowed to wear, can be found sitting in stalls or primping in front of mirrors at any given time of the school day. There is no monitoring when a boy goes to a girls’ room. No one is watching. No one is protecting.

And I’m not sure many parents are aware this is happening.

Have we not learned anything from the shameful way things played out in Virginia before parents finally took back control of their children’s school rooms? Do we have to wait until there is a tragedy here, in our city, before we as parents and grandparents and neighbors and friends all stand up and demand that the line between right and wrong, boy and girl, is no longer blurred? It is our duty and our right to expect and insist upon a world where our children do not have to bend to today’s “tiptoe” policy, where everyone is so afraid of offending those who would shove their lifestyle in our face, preaching tolerance while simultaneously condemning us because we happen to be content with our God-given gender or identity.

We are at war. And so are our children.

The other side of this coin, we must not forget, is our responsibility as parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors to hold our children accountable for their behavior. The same teenagers who tell me of encounters with the opposite sex in the bathroom or the locker room also tell me of classrooms full of children yelling at their teacher, staging mutinies or walk-outs and a complete disregard for any authority whatsoever. There are male students leading their “girlfriends” around the hallways with dog collars and a leash. There are female students getting physically confrontational with teachers as if they themselves are not responsible for their failing grades. And boys and girls alike have no trouble flouting their bad behavior in the face of any adult they cross paths with, if they bother to go to school at all.

And it is directly the fault of the adults these children live with. If we expect our teachers to teach our children, we have to raise children who respect our teachers. Because our teachers are also at war. They are caught between two sides: the administration whose hands are tied and who have bowed to ridiculous legislation that endangers and discounts our children, and parents who have failed to give their kids a good, old-fashioned whipping when they got too big for their britches.

It is time, right now, for all of us to choose not to be a passive soldier. We are the only ones who can stop the direction our country is spiraling into. Go to the school your child attends and ask questions. Demand answers. Let your viewpoint be known. Be respectful. Be confident in your right to know and to have a voice. Go to school board meetings. Talk to the mayor. Email your state legislators. Email Congress. Email the president. Do it all with respect, but do it with strength. We have to expect respect for our values, and we have to teach respect to our children. One will not work without the other. My dad would stand up … if he were still with us. Will you?

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