Reductio ad absurdem
Using a reductio ad absurdem is a way of demonstrating the flaw in one's logic. If there is a weakness in an argument that may not seem obvious at first glance, the reductio ad absurdum technique is to follow the principle which is incorrect in the argument to its logical conclusion and thus to highlight its absurdity. The argument from those in favor of the rules put in place by the Massachusetts DOE seems to be that there is no real distinction between male and female, or at the very least, that the distinction is subjective. And if that distinction is subjective, we shouldn't treat the students as if their gender matters at all, and we should also encourage them to ignore gender differences on principle.
To be totally clear once again: I don't deny that there are some individuals who struggle to accept their biological gender, or who have some sort of difficulty with their gender identity. And they deserve to be treated with dignity. But, to accept the premise that gender is totally subjective leads to absolutely absurd consequences. And yet, stunningly, the school DOE is actually carrying out those absurd consequences which are the result of a denial of the objectivity of gender. Here are some of the most ridiculous examples:
- The primary authority on a student's gender is, according to the rules, not the parents, but the student. SO school personnel are specifically instructed to treat the student's answers as more important than the parent's. Meaning that if a boy tells the teachers he feels like a girl, they have to accept his female identity at school, even if the parents disagree.
- Schools are now to remove gender as a part of qualifying for specific sports teams. Oddly enough, the rule, clearly designed to eliminate gender's role in the school, in all aspects, could cause some serious gender discrimination. If boys decide they want to play on the girl's sports teams and are more gifted in the various sports, they may wind up taking up spots that truly should belong to girls. But gender doesn't matter, so that idea is old-fashioned now.
- Along with the sport membership comes the issue of locker room usage. The DOE clearly wants gender to not be a visible part of school policies. So if a biological male identifies as a female, he is to be allowed to use the female restrooms and, presumably, locker rooms.
- Perhaps the strangest and most obviously absurd rule of all: students who are uncomfortable with a transgender person using their restroom or playing on their team are not allowed to voice their dissatisfaction. And, in fact, they could be punished. So, a girl who doesn't want a feminine-identifying biological male to use the same restroom as her wouldn't have a legitimate way of protesting the absurd policy without herself facing the possibility of disciplinary action.
- But it's not just a question of being silent when one might otherwise naturally protest. No, the goal is to affirm the gender decision of any student. In the previous example, if the girl continued to complain she could be subjected to discipline for not affirming that student’s gender identity choice.
One would think that after examining the logical consequences of a belief that gender is subjective and that we shouldn't have any policies at all which are based on biological gender, perhaps the DOE might have realized that they were dealing with absurd consequences. And that perhaps the absurdity of the consequences was a result of their absurd ideology. But one must remember that rare is the bird in education these days who has a sound philosophy let alone a functional human anthropology to deal sensibly with such matters.
Now, again, I want to be clear. Merely because I believe these policies to be insane doesn't mean I advocate for bullying the small percentage of students with gender identity issues. They do deserve Not to be bullied. They deserve Not to be denied any access to education. And I do imagine restroom use is a particularly challenging event for them each day. But there has to be a better, more sane way to deal with those concerns. Perhaps they could have private one-stall bathrooms for those students, or they could use the restroom at a time when other students are not in them so as to avoid difficulties of the students who would be upset by a person of the opposite biological gender using their same restroom or locker facilities.
These are the kinds of situations we wind up in when we try to build a society around such a weak philosophical anthropology and such a weak ethical framework. When we begin to say that there is no natural law, we end up in these types of situations. Funny enough, if you tried to make as radically relative of a claim to environmentalists, they would balk at the idea, because the environment has clear laws that we just can't get around, no matter how much we try. If only we had as much sense, respect, and reverence for the laws governing our human nature as we did for those which govern the ecosystem.