BLOG“Equality Act” Sends Clear Message to Women: Your Rights Don’t Matter

By Emily LaFata Posted on: | April 02, 2019

Seventeen year-old student Alexis Lightcap at Boyertown High School in Pennsylvania came to a school authority visibly shaken. She voiced her concern about having seen a young man in the girls’ restroom.

Alexis had been so scared by the incident that she sprinted out of the restroom to report it. After all, restrooms should be private spaces, free from the opposite sex.

Her expectation is nothing out of the ordinary – the right to bodily privacy is, after all, protected under the Constitution.

But when Alexis voiced her concern to school officials, they made her feel that she had no reason to complain. The Boyertown school district had recently altered its policy to fit new sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ideology. This left the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms open to any student who identifies as a girl.

School officials turned a deaf ear to Alexis’ need for privacy. And they expected her to choke back her genuine concern, and “make it as natural as possible,” as they had instructed another student. The only other option Alexis had was to avoid using the restroom entirely.

Why are schools denying the rights of young women like Alexis? According to the Constitution, women have equal protection under law. And a student’s privacy right does not depend upon what others believe about their own gender.

Yet SOGIs send a clear message to women like Alexis: Your privacy doesn’t matter.

And now, a new federal SOGI proposal has emerged: the so-called Equality Act.

If Congress passes the Equality Act, which is the subject of congressional hearings today, it would erase women and girls as a category based in biological reality, worthy of civil-rights protection under the law.

Under the Equality Act, any man who identifies as a woman would be treated in all respects as a woman. This would give him the legal right to access women’s showers, restrooms, and locker rooms, regardless of his actual motives for entering these places. Women would be left with absolutely no haven for bodily privacy and no legal recourse. Strangely, the law would simultaneously state that women’s privacy is protected and that they may not escape the gaze of a biological man in their locker rooms or restrooms.

Alexis is not the only woman who is being treated as a second-class citizen by a SOGI rule.

Right now, a SOGI ordinance in Anchorage, Alaska threatens the safety and privacy of the women at Downtown Hope Center, a local nonprofit that has served the homeless community for 30 years. The city, utilizing a 2015 SOGI ordinance, is trying to force the Hope Center to allow biological men who identify as women to sleep in its women’s only shelter. This shelter consists of one room with mattresses set three to five feet apart from one another. And if the Hope Center does not comply, the government is threatening to close that vital ministry.

But the Hope Center serves women who were victims of abuse by offering women’s only sleeping areas. Because these women suffered from rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, they seek refuge from exposure to the opposite sex. Their desire for separate sleeping facilities is perfectly reasonable, especially since the presence of men is a source of great anxiety. However, the government has no consideration for their pain. Like Alexis, these women are expected to do nothing while their right to privacy is violated.

One woman from the shelter, a rape survivor, expressed how she felt about the recent city mandate: “I spent time on the streets, and I know how hard it can be out there. But if the Hope Center were forced to let any biological man into the women’s shelter, I would leave even if it meant sleeping in the woods. I would rather sleep in the woods than sleep in the same area as a biological man.”

The Hope Center understands this woman’s anxiety about close contact with the opposite sex, and it protects her and other victims from experiences that trigger their deep-seated fears. But the SOGI in Anchorage wants to silence her and others who push back against its measures.

Women have fought long and hard for equal treatment under the law, but SOGI laws like the “Equality Act” would undo these hard-fought victories. The government cannot be allowed to pick and choose whose rights it will acknowledge. Alexis and the women at Downtown Hope Center should never be forced to hold back their discomfort and hide their pain because a SOGI law erased their rights.

Emily LaFata

Operations Administrator

Emily serves as Operations Administrator at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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