Monday, November 19, 2012

Last month, the Memphis City Council alluded to “progressive” communities and resolved that Memphis would join their ranks, approving a non-discrimination policy that provides legal protections for the sexual orientation and gender identity of city employees. The protections afforded under this law are largely symbolic. There is no history of any discrimination relating to these matters and the city already has in place laws prohibiting discrimination “for any reason” and precluding employment decisions based on “non-merited factors.”

Notwithstanding, the ramifications of this non-discrimination policy are huge.

Taking a major step toward normalizing these sexually-premised behaviors, the Council’s actions have produced unsafe conditions in city facilities and work environs, while possibly setting up the financially-strapped city for legal liability.

Consider the recent predicament at Evergreen State College, in the State of Washington, where a 45 year-old male student, Colleen Francis, has made liberal use of the women’s locker room and sauna, repeatedly exposing himself to young girls found there. You would think the college administrators would protect these girls and bar Francis from entry, but they say their hands are tied. The college’s non-discrimination policy precludes discrimination based on gender identity (just like the Memphis policy), entitling Francis – though biologically a male – unfettered access to female facilities because he thinks of himself (at least at certain times) as female (albeit lesbian). To stop Francis, college officials would subject themselves to a legal claim based entirely on the rights they created themselves with their non-discrimination policy.

The Memphis City Council – borrowing trouble from progressive places – has effectively paved the way for similar quandaries. In their strident effort to appease a particular constituency, they abandoned common sense. Establishing a right for self-professed “gender identity,” the Council has imposed a Hobson’s choice on the City of Memphis: Either facilitate public indecency or face legal liability for failing to do so.

By: Nate Kellum