Summit Daily letters to the editor: Transgender rights and climate change
More than a bathroom battle
I’m writing to offer a very different perspective on North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law than that of Morgan Liddick in his April 5 On Your Right column, “Bathrooms: The New Battlefield.”
The North Carolina legislature created the law expressly to undo an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte extending LGBT protections against discrimination to transgender people who want to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. The overriding state law bars transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. And it forbids municipalities from creating their own anti-discrimination policies.
As background: Transgender people are individuals whose sex at birth is different from who they know themselves to be on the inside. At some point in their lives, many transgender people decide they must live their lives as the gender they’ve always felt they were, and they transition to living as that gender. The prevailing culture makes daily life very difficult for them, impacting their health, safety and economic security. The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association support protections for transgender people.
Opponents of laws protecting transgender people often try to mislead the public into believing that such laws pose a threat to public safety. In particular, they claim that protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations will lead to sexual predators targeting women and children in public bathrooms.
In fact, nothing in a nondiscrimination law changes existing public safety laws that already make it illegal for anyone to enter a restroom to harass or assault people or invade their privacy. Seventeen states and more than 200 cities across the U.S. have passed and successfully implemented these kinds of laws with no increase in public-safety incidents.
The new North Carolina law is part of a wave of so-called “religious freedom” or “anti-religious persecution” bills designed to prohibit punishment of persons and businesses who violate anti-discrimination laws. The effect of such laws is to make “sincerely-held religious belief” a legal basis by which any person may exempt him- or herself from the obligation to follow the law.
Anti-discrimination laws don’t take away the right to have or express unpopular religious beliefs. Protecting vulnerable minorities from discrimination is simply about treating others as we ourselves want to be treated.
Transgender people are part of our workplaces and our neighborhoods, and they need to be able to use the restroom just like everyone else. Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms, including to customers who are gay or transgender. Nobody should be turned away from a business, denied service in a restaurant or evicted from their apartment simply because of who they are or who they love.
A student’s concern about climate
I am writing to express my concern about the immense threat that is climate change. Climate change is a growing problem that poses a hazard to our future generations and to our country. Ninety-seven percent of actively climate publishing scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities (NASA).
Heat from the sun travels through the Earth’s atmosphere and warms the surface. When the surface heats up, the heat energy gets sent back into the atmosphere. There are certain gases in the atmosphere that keep the heat from escaping. Some of these gases are water vapor, methane and carbon dioxide. When humans emit more carbon dioxide, it disrupts the natural balance of carbon dioxide being naturally emitted and the amount being removed from the Earth.
Climate change is happening to our planet. Climate change includes things such as global temperature rise, glaciers melting, decrease in snow cover and sea level rise. Since 1969, the top 2,300 feet of ocean have experienced a 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit increase. In the past three decades, sea surface temperature has been higher than any other time since the 1800s.
I believe that climate change is one of the most important and urgent problems that our country is facing, along with the rest of the planet. We cannot look over this issue, and we most start doing something about it now. This will be a hard problem to fix and it will certainly take a lot of time. We need to take action now — not tomorrow — to fix this critical issue that we face as a society. Thank you for your attention to this problem.
9th Grade Student at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy
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