SOGI Laws: Trampling Privacy, Safety And Religious Freedom

Restroom

Content Warning: Some of the incidents discussed in this article are disturbing, and some of the links may lead to websites with adult content.

More than 330 cities, counties and towns have passed ordinances that protect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in public and private employment. Dozens of states have passed similar laws. Besides offering employment protection, hundreds of towns, cities, counties and states have also passed SOGI laws that affect public accommodations (such as restrooms and locker rooms), housing and education. Some of these laws provide exclusions based on religion, many do not.

In addition to these state and local laws, numerous agencies in the Federal government have redefined "sex discrimination" in federal non-discrimination statutes to include "sexual orientation and gender identity." Advocates of this change reason that "sex discrimination" could include  believing and expressing the opinion that men and women are different or that men and women should behave in certain ways.

For example, if you work in an office and offer your belief that men should only marry women, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could view this as a form of "sex discrimination" because you are expressing a stereotype about men and women, and therefore creating a hostile work environment for those who are in a same-sex union. Or, if you are a teacher and say boys cannot change sex and transition into girls, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights could construe this as sex discrimination and accuse you of somehow harming transgender-identified individuals.

SOGI Laws In Conflict with Christianity

These laws clash with how Christians – and people of other faiths – view the world. Christians believe that God purposefully created humanity male and female. Men and women are different, but both are good and valuable. We also believe that marriage between a man and woman is God’s design and the only place for sexual expression.

So when SOGI laws are passed, they often come into conflict with Christian faith and basic rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. And we’ve seen a number of cases where sexual orientation and gender identity are elevated above religious liberty, freedom of association and free speech. Many SOGI law activists believe that sexuality should trump religious freedom and free speech, and that people of faith should be forced to comply, even if doing so violates their religious and moral beliefs.

Local, state and federal governments are creating laws and policies based around these concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity that negatively affect individuals and organizations. Here are just a few examples of the harmful effects of these laws; most took place in states or localities where SOGI protections already exist.For additional examples, see our article: "The Impact of Adding LGBT to Nondiscrimination Laws."

Privacy and Safety

SOGI ordinances often include public accommodations, such as restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms. People using these facilities have a reasonable expectation that their privacy and safety will be safeguarded and that they won’t be exposed to members of the opposite sex. With the passage of SOGI laws, unwanted encounters are taking place.

  • The girls’ swim team from Olympia High School was using the pool and other facilities at nearby Evergreen State College, when one girl walked in on a naked man in a sauna. Girls as young as six years old, part of a local swim club, also share these facilities. The college says their non-discrimination policy – with protections based on gender identity – prevent them from keeping the transgender-identified man from the women’s facilities.http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/why-this-school-is-o-k-with-a-man-exposing-himself-to-young-girls/; http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/college-allows-transgender-man-to-expose-himself-to-young-girls.html
  • On the other coast, in Maryland and Virginia, police were looking for a man dressed as a woman who used a mirror to look below a restroom stall. In October 2015, a Washington DC news station reported, that "a 35-year-old woman told police that a man dressed as a woman stuck a mirror under her restroom stall... She had been with her 5-year-old daughter at the time." The story continues, "In May, a voyeur using the same method tried to peer into a stall at the Walmart in Woodbridge, Virginia."http://wtop.com/prince-william-county/2015/10/police-seeks-serial-prince-william-co-peeper/
  • A man was found guilty of assault after he stole two pink Barbie cheerleading costumes, dressed up, entered the women’s restroom and attacked a woman. She fought him off and fled the room. Gregory Philip Schwartz says he often dresses up in women’s clothing when he’s under the influence of methamphetamine. His attorney said that "Schwartz suffered from drug-induced ‘transvestic fetishism.’"http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/man-dressed-barbie-assaults-woman-cops-article-1.1708778; http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/jan/22/man-barbie-costume-guilty-assault-store-restroom/; http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Tutu-Clad-Assault-Suspect-Suffers-Tranvestic-Fetishism-Attorney-Gregory-Schwartz-Big-Lots--288752051.html

Religious Freedom

SOGI laws bring the power of the government against pastors, faith-based ministries, and people of faith and their businesses.

  • A 17-year old Missouri boy, who feels like he is a girl and wears skirts, makeup and long hair, insisted on using the girls’ locker room to change for gym class. The school district allowed him to do so, and many other students walked out in protest. The Department of Education has issued guidance redefining redefined "sex discrimination" in Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity; and it has pressured schools to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms that accord with their "gender identity."http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/citizen-magazine/education/title-ix-and-transgenderism-the-new-threat-in-your-childs-school; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/us/teenagers-protest-a-transgender-students-use-of-the-girls-bathroom.html; http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-title-ix.pdf
  • When a SOGI law was passed by the city council in Houston, TX, many spoke out against it and worked to place an initiative on the ballot to let citizens vote on the issue. In the legal conflict over the ballot initiative, city attorneys subpoenaed information from five pastors—including copies of sermons and personal communications—infringing on their freedoms.http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/citizen-magazine/houston-we-have-a-problem; http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/religious-freedom/houstons-religious-freedom-problem/houstons-religious-freedom-problem The SOGI law in Houston was later defeated in a 61-39% vote.http://txvalues.org/2015/11/11/houston-victory-shows-common-sense-texas-values-can-win/
  • A member of the Colorado Human Rights Commission compared a Denver baker to slave owners and holocaust perpetrators after he politely declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. The Commission told Jack Philips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, that he and his staff must be "re-educated" about marriage.http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9479; http://www.adfmedia.org/files/MasterpieceOpeningAppellateBrief.pdf
  • For more than 100 years, Boston Catholic Charities helped adopt children into families. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court mandated same-sex unions, the decision was coupled with an earlier state policy on sexual orientation, forcing the agency to place children with same-sex couples, in opposition to their faith. As a result, the agency ended its foster care and adoption programs.http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/discrimination-against-catholic-adoption-services.cfm
  • A man who claims to be a woman, "Charlene" Hastings, filed a lawsuit against Seton Medical Center, a Catholic hospital in Daly City, California, after the hospital refused Hastings' request for "breast augmentation surgery." The hospital explained that, as a Catholic institution, it does not allow transgender surgery as it conflicts with Catholic teaching. Seton Medical Center eventually settled the lawsuit, paying Hastings $200,000.http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,323791,00.html

Educational Concerns and Parental Rights 

Schools that teach transgender or homosexual ideology may invoke SOGI laws to validate their actions. Or, states may write special SOGI protections into their education codes, which lead to actions that are in direct opposition to parents’ religious beliefs. 

  • In Oakland, California, an activist from the group Gender Spectrum read the book My Princess Boy to a kindergarten class. The book describes a boy who likes to wear tiaras and dresses. An activist from the group said, "Our work is to help all children learn about all the different ways to be boys or girls or neither."http://media.focusonthefamily.com/free-downloads/pdf/Gender%20Confusing%20Messages_Schools_True_Tolerance_Primer.pdf; http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/05/24/controversy-over-gender-diversity-lessons-at-oakland-school/
  • A school district training in Nebraska distributed materials from an outside activist group, "Gender Spectrum," that encouraged  teachers to stop using "gendered expressions," such as "boys and girls," when referring to students. Instead, they suggested educators might use phrases like "purple penguins" to identify a group of students. The school was equipping teachers and students to understand "gender inclusiveness."http://www.truetolerance.org/2015/are-the-purple-penguins-coming-to-a-school-near-you/; http://watchdog.org/174768/gender-inclusive/; https://www.genderspectrum.org/
  • A transgender-identified student, born female but identifying as male, filed a complaint against Miami University because she was refused a campus housing position as a resident advisor in a male dormitory. The university had resisted her request, even though both the school and the town of Oxford, Ohio, have policies protecting "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" in housing, employment, and public accommodations.http://cleveland.cbslocal.com/2012/03/21/transgender-student-files-complaint-after-being-banned-from-all-male-dorm/

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