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Opinion: Columnists

The exhibitionist as a civil rights hero

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Photo - Toilet sign on cement wall
Toilet sign on cement wall
Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

We're only in year three of the 2010s, but already the outrage of the decade has been committed.

This outrage involves the subject of race, but don't expect the likes of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson to weigh in on this one. You won't hear a peep from any other black misleader either.

Those outraged -- and righly so -- by the February shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., won't get their noses even a smidgen out of joint about this outrage, since it's been committed by someone who has privileged victim status.

The offender is "Colleen" Francis, whom I wrote about in a previous column. Francis is 45 years old, white and a so-called transgender person. That is to say, Francis was born a male and has male genitalia but chooses to identify himself as, and live as, a woman.

Francis's anatomical maleness did not prevent Evergreen State College in Washington from giving him permission to use the women's locker room on the campus. That locker room isn't just used by Evergreen coeds. Girls from a nearby high school swim team use it, and so do members of a girls' swimming club.

So Francis has been parading around a women's locker room where preteen and teen girls have seen him flashing his masculine glory. Evergreen officials justified this insanity by citing Washington law.

"The college cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity," said Jason Wettstein, a spokesman for the school. "Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state."

How do such laws get passed? It starts with what I call "punt on first down" lawmakers, a pusillanimous, poltroonish bunch that have only primordial ooze where their spines should be. Add radical elements of the LGBT -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender -- movement to the mix that advocate for the passage of such laws. Throw in a couple of charges of "bigot" and "homophobe" at anyone opposing the law, and you end up with guys like Francis parading their family jewels around a women's locker room.

That's an outrage, but it's not THE outrage of the decade. Francis himself provided that, with his reckless comparison of his situation to that of black Americans 50 or so years ago.

"This is not 1959 Alabama," Francis said, according to news reports. "We don't call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain."

Did this guy just say that his being banned from a women's locker room -- one that is also used by teen and pre-teen girls -- was comparable to being a black resident of Alabama circa 1959? Oh yes he did.

Francis was born circa 1967. He certainly has no clue about what it was like to be black in Alabama circa 1959. But I was born in 1951, and I remember quite a few things. I remember the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that left Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley dead. McNair was only 11 years old; Collins, Robertson and Wesley were all 14.

That bombing and the deaths of those four girls scarred me for life. It only reopens the wound for someone like Francis to argue that his "right" to parade nude in front of little girls is comparable to the plight of McNair, Collins, Robertson and Wesley. The shame is that, judging by the silence, I'm quite alone in that assessment.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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