School should have been the safest place for Pascha Thomas's 5-year-old daughter. That all changed when she was sexually assaulted.
The worst part? School policy protected the assailant instead of the victim.
Now politicians are hoping to replicate this policy nationwide.
It all began when Thomas's daughter asked her teacher for permission to use the restroom. Shortly thereafter, a boy in the class also asked if he could use the restroom. The girl was exiting a stall when, to her surprise, her male classmate confronted her. He pushed her against the wall and, despite her protestations, forcibly touched her genitals.
When Thomas's daughter told her mother what had happened, she did what any mother would do: She stood up for her child and demanded that the school take measures to ensure the boy who had attacked her daughter would not do so again.
But the school claimed it couldn't help. Its anti-discrimination policy grants students access to the facilities of their choice based on self-identified gender. The boy in question identified as "gender fluid." Therefore, he could continue to use the girls' restroom whenever he wanted.
Without the privacy and safety of a female-only restroom, the school was no longer a safe space for Thomas's daughter. She removed the girl from school and has since filed a complaint with the Department of Education.
State and local sexual orientation gender identity policies are a Trojan horse. They claim to promote equality but have been used to allow males into women's sports and spaces, attack businesses and charities, and politicize medicine.
Even though the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the effects of these policies, politicians are rushing to expand their reach. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently introduced the so-called "Equality Act," which would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes in federal anti-discrimination law.
Twenty-four states have already passed sexual orientation and gender identity laws. That includes laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodations, housing, and education, as well as bans on counseling for individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction. Moreover, hundreds of cities and localities across all 50 states have adopted sexual orientation and gender identity policies.
These policies aren't being used to promote equality. They're being used as a blunt-force weapon to impose a new cultural orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality by punishing dissenters which, at least for some proponents, was always the plan.
Colorado billionaire Tim Gill, the man dubbed "the mega-donor behind the LGBTQ rights movement" by Rolling Stone, disclosed that his strategy is to implement sexual orientation and gender identity laws as quickly and widely as possible at the state level. "We're going into the hardest states in the country," he said. "We're going to punish the wicked."
That's exactly how these laws have been used not to protect people from unfair treatment, but to punish people for their beliefs.
That's true when it comes to debates over the meaning of marriage and the reality of biological sex.
Average Americans who hold that marriage is a union between one man and one woman have undergone costly lawsuits or even lost their livelihoods because of their convictions.
The most high-profile example is from Gill's Colorado. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, won at the Supreme Court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission accused him of discrimination for refusing to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Similar cases have arisen in Washington, New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia, involving florists, photographers, wedding venue owners, videographers, web designers, calligraphers, and public servants.
Meanwhile, faith-based foster care and adoption agencies in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have been forced to shut down for operating according to their religious beliefs about marriage further exacerbating our current foster-care crisis.
Now, cases are emerging involving Americans who have suffered consequences for holding that sex is a biological reality.
Catholic hospitals in New Jersey and California were sued for refusing to perform hysterectomies on otherwise healthy females who wanted to pursue gender transition. A third Catholic hospital in Washington settled after the ACLU sued it for declining to perform a double mastectomy and chest-reconstruction surgery on a 16-year-old girl.
A teacher in Virginia was fired for failing to use a female student's preferred masculine pronouns. A professor in Ohio was disciplined for doing the same.
Female high school athletes in Connecticut lost the state championship to a pair of biological males who self-identified as females.
A homeless shelter for abused women in Alaska has been sued for refusing to admit a biological male. In Michigan and Florida, women lost their memberships at Planet Fitness when they questioned sharing locker rooms with biological males under the gym's transgender bathroom policy.
Meanwhile, in Illinois, California, and Vermont, foster parents are expected to provide children suffering from gender dysphoria with transition-affirming therapies over parents' medical or moral objections. That suggests that adherence to radical gender ideology could become a new litmus test for parental fitness.
In fact, in Ohio, a judge removed a 17-year-old girl from her parents' custody after they refused to sign their daughter up for testosterone treatments. The judge did so even without a state sexual orientation and gender identity policy. If a federal sexual orientation and gender identity policy were to politicize medicine across the country, parental rights could be at stake here, too.
It's worth noting that all of this has happened without a federal sexual orientation and gender identity policy. The federal Equality Act would only make this bad situation worse.
Lawmakers ought to oppose any kind of federal sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination law.
This piece originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune