Monday, March 19 , 2018, 2:06 pm | Fair 63º


Harris Sherline: What Gender Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

A new law allows children to decide their own sex. Just who is teaching the birds and the bees these days?

Given my age, by now I suppose I should be accustomed to change. I’ve seen a lot of it. Some good, some bad, some absolutely terrible. Some fair and some unfair, both stupid and intelligent. You name it, and I thought I’d seen it all.


But, I never thought I would live to see the day when the crazies in the California Legislature would actually think it’s a good idea to allow schoolchildren to decide which sex they want to be. Not their sexual preference, mind you, but whether they are male or female, notwithstanding their anatomical makeup.

SB 777, introduced by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger late last year. It eliminated Education Code 212, which defined "sex" as "the biological condition or quality of being a male or female human being."

This new law redefines the term "gender" for all schoolchildren by adding Education Code 210.7, which reads: "‘Gender’ means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth." In short, this redefinition of gender states that you are what you choose to be regardless of your anatomical makeup. SB 777 also uses this redefinition of gender to forbid educators from discriminating against any individual employee, student or other person based upon that individual’s unspoken claim of being male or female, regardless of his or her actual sex.

“Kids are going to be taught that they have the right to completely ignore their physical anatomy and choose the status of being ‘male’ or ‘female,’” Robert Tyler, general counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a nonprofit religious liberty and pro-family law firm, wrote of the measure in a North County Times commentary.

“Ignore your common sense, ignore your chromosomes and ignore your anatomy," he said. "This is what your politicians want to teach your kids in school. After all, California’s kids have mastered reading, writing and arithmetic, haven’t they?”

To illustrate the law’s potential consequences, Tyler posed the question, “What will prevent the 250-pound linebacker from deciding he wants to share to share the locker room with the cheerleaders?”

For those who may scoff at this example of the law’s potential impact, the Los Angeles Unified School District has already adopted policies allowing boys to use girl’s restrooms and locker rooms — and vice versa. The district’s reference guide “even tells teachers they need to refer to students using the student’s preferred pronoun. And of course, it prohibits the teachers from disclosing a student’s chosen gender to the student’s parents," according to the Jawa Report.

How crazy is this? Children can now declare which sex they are without telling their parents. How, I wonder, does that work at home, or how does a teacher consult with parents whose child has declared he or she — or she or he — is a different sex without the parents’ knowledge?

Advocates of the new law argue that “it’s needed to protect gays and others with nonheterosexual orientations from being harassed in schools. Opponents say it will force teachers and school officials to silence anyone who is morally opposed to homosexuality and allow anyone to claim privileges based on self-defined sexual orientation,” according to Sacrament Bee columnist Dan Walters.

My sense is that this will stifle all free expression about sexuality in the schools, that it’s another step along the path of Political Correctness to mass confusion and resentment. And, no doubt it will add to the income of the trial lawyers, who will game the system with litigation to create and/or protect clients’ rights, real or imagined.

Last October, state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, wrote, “After all, if courts begin ruling that exclusion is indeed a form of discriminatory bias — which is clearly the intent of this bill — there are no groups more excluded or less tolerated in the public schools today than evangelical Christians, orthodox Jews and traditional Catholics.”

The oft-quoted observation, “the asylum is being run by the inmates,” seems to describe California’s political system perfectly. If this didn’t have such serious potential consequences, it would be downright laughable.

Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his own blog,

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