The Agnes Irwin School is an elite private institution on Philadelphia’s prestigious Main Line, founded by Benjamin Franklin’s great-great granddaughter in 1869. For its entire history, it had been an all-girls institution. Until now.
Despite the school trying not to admit it, Agnes Irwin became co-ed last year when it allowed a female student to "switch" genders and "identify" as male. With that decision, Irwin afforded "him" a host of special benefits that come with being male in an otherwise all-female school, including changing her name to a "his" name; donning a different uniform; using a separate bathroom; wearing a tuxedo in a sea of gowns at the prom (and upcoming graduation); and being officially referred to as "he" and "his" in school, and in school publications.
It’s one thing to be "progressive," but this is beyond the boundaries of common sense — and good business. Irwin’s decision constitutes a betrayal to those who chose the school because it was single-sex. In fact, numerous families have already parted ways with Agnes Irwin as a result.
The bottom line. Since humans are referred to as either "he" or "she," and the school stamped its official imprimatur on allowing a "he" student, then, by definition, this year’s graduates will be part of the first co-ed class in the school’s 148-year history. There is no way to suggest otherwise.
Here’s a look at why such politically-correct polices have a detrimental effect on everyone including schools, parents, and most of all, students.
To be very clear, in no way is this column critical of the student, or the student’s family. This author has always espoused a "live and let live" philosophy, so long as people’s behavior and decisions do not adversely affect others. If the student feels more like a male than female — fine. Hopefully, "he" finds happiness in that decision.
The issue has nothing to do with being transgender, and everything to do with institutions breaking protocols — yet coyly trying to play both sides.
You cannot emphatically state that you were, and remain, an all-girls school, while allowing "male" students. That’s like saying you’re a vegetarian except for chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. It just doesn’t work.
The solution was simple: explain to the student and his/her family that, as an all-girls institution, it cannot allow "males" (either biologically or those identifying as such) to be a part of the student body. No exceptions. So the student would either comply with the rules (the same rules to which the student and family originally consented) or would have to find another school.
Doing so would have reflected Irwin’s commitment to its mission and history, and demonstrated that it respects the "rule of law," while acting compassionately. What better lesson for young girls?
But instead of passing the test, Agnes Irwin failed miserably.
Sure, a few unplacatable loudmouths may have complained if the school had exited the student, but that dissent would have mustered little credibility and been short-lived.
But instead, it chose a politically correct path that surely looks to be more damaging. With tuition starting at $22,700 for Pre-K, and rising to $36,550 per year for high schoolers, any family leaving because of the situation results in a significant revenue loss.
Do the math. If the family of a 4th-grader pulled out, and (just for laughs) let’s say tuition stayed the same for the next eight years, then a whopping $278,000 would have walked out the door, not including thousands more in donations and fundraisers. Factor in multiple families (and prospects who’ve now nixed Irwin), combined with donors and alumni who refuse to contribute out of disgust, and Agnes Irwin could easily lose millions. And naturally, parents of current students will continually wonder if future tuition increases are the tool to make up that lost revenue.
And all because it tried to be all things to all people, while forgetting what it was.
An all-girls environment is a huge reason why parents and students pick such a school. But by allowing a male student, the single-sex structure goes by the wayside, a slap in parents' faces who were promised a single-sex school.
Adopting these policies opens Pandora’s box. What if one male turns into ten? Is it fair to allow males identifying as females to compete on female sports teams? Would it be legal to apply as an" identifying female" to a university that gives preference to women?
Could people claim to be other ethnicities solely on the basis that they "identify" as such? What’s the difference between doing that and claiming a different gender? Can men and non-minorities apply for loans and contracts that are preferentially awarded to women and minorities — so long as they "identify" as such?
And what gender will be marked on passports, drivers' licenses and birth certificates? Where does it end?
These policies are imbuing people with the sense of entitlement that they can do whatever they want; teaching that there are two sets of rules (one for those who invoke the magic words "diversity" and "I’m offended," and another for everyone else); and demonstrating that the American concept of "equal rights for all, special treatment for none" is nothing more than an ancient platitude now relegated to the dustbin of history.
Time for some common sense, because there are no worse lessons we can teach our children.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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