Candidate for Congress backs equal treatment for students | Arkansas Blog

Candidate for Congress backs equal treatment for students

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SPEAKING OUT: Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen appears in an ad speaking up for transgender people.
  • SPEAKING OUT: Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen appears in an ad speaking up for transgender people.

Dianne Curry
of Little Rock, the Democratic candidate for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill, issued a prepared statement in response to President Obama's guidance on equal facility access for students, aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students:

"As a mother, a grandmother, and a former member of the Little Rock School Board, I have always spoken up for and fought to guarantee that every child, no matter who they are, is afforded an equal right to a quality education in an environment free from discrimination on any basis. I will continue to do so as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress in the 2nd District, and if so fortunate, as a member of the House of Representatives."
A measured comment from the candidate. It's something of a relief in these times.

I sometimes wonder when I read the comments from the most unhappy Republicans how many of them have ever knowingly met a transgender person or whether they accept that gender dysphoria exists. Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a ringleader of the unhappy opposition to equal treatment, is a good example. See his desperate interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes.

I wish they'd read an article about a Republican member of Congress with a personal stake — a child — in the debate.

The day Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told his prominent parents about his new gender identity, he did so in a letter that he left on their bed. Then he grabbed a packed bag and, unsure of whether he would be welcomed back, went to a friend’s house to see if his family would love him or leave him.

His shocked parents, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, and Dexter Lehtinen, who served as the top federal prosecutor here, did not hesitate. They grabbed the phone and told him that they loved him and that family trumped all, and asked him to come home. But as with many parents of transgender children, they were also overwhelmed by fear: The future they saw for their then 21-year-old, whom they had named Amanda, would be pockmarked with discrimination and bullying, if not outright violence.

It was this visceral reaction to want to protect her child that drove Ms. Ros-Lehtinen to break from her party’s skepticism or hostility on gay and transgender issues — a stance evident now in North Carolina’s battle over transgender bathroom visits — and become a conspicuous advocate in Congress and more recently in public service announcements.
I'm acquainted with several transgender people. One — I'll call him Max — I knew as a child as Maxine. Max is a handsome bearded adult now. North Carolina — and Republicans of Arkansas from Gov. Asa Hutchinson on down — would consign Max to women's restrooms. I don't think that's what Dan Patrick or Asa Hutchinson really want, of course. They want to discriminate against Max — and LGB people, too — in ways far broader than restroom choice. THAT is the problem. Bathrooms are their solution (their wedge) for protecting legal discrimination from work place to apartments to restaurants.

I read a resonant quote somewhere online yesterday. Don't know who to credit. "Those accustomed to privilege see equality as oppression."


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