Progressive Ideology, Meet Parents. Parents, Meet Federalism.

Photo credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A significant introduction has been made, but there’s one more that needs to happen.

While a new Quinnipac poll is showing that Americans are still evenly divided over whether a person’s biological sex should determine which public bathroom they use, the majority of residents in key swing states—Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—are opposed to the White House’s mandate requiring public schools to allow transgender students into the bathrooms and locker rooms that “correspond to their gender identity.”

This mandate, though similar to the executive bureaucracy’s attempt to seize control of education by imposing national Common Core standards and testing, is an even more fundamental subversion of parents’ role in educating their children. It’s no wonder there is such a difference in pushback between gender-neutral facilities in public spaces and gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms in schools:

  • In Florida, while 48 percent of voters support allowing transgender people to use the public facilities they choose, 54 percent of voters say they would oppose any rule requiring public schools to enforce such a mandate.
  • Opinions in Ohio over public facilities were split 43 percent supporting to 48 percent opposing, but opposition to a mandate for public schools was at 55 percent in Ohio versus 36 percent in favor.
  • In Pennsylvania, the bathroom debate was split with 49 percent supporting allowing transgender people to use the facilities opposite of their gender and 43 opposing, but yet again, the majority opposed a mandate for schools: 53 percent opposed mandating public schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms not in accord with their biological sex, versus 39 percent supporting.

Both conservatives and progressives will agree that education is a life-long process and that this process should be directed toward learning how to live a fully human life. We also both believe that a proper understanding of human sexuality is central to this goal. However, the first exposure that a child receives to masculinity and femininity is from his or her parents—the embodiment of binary or complimentary sexuality. Mandating that schools allow students to use a bathroom intended for the opposite sex teaches even the youngest children that objective reality has no bearing on their identity as a person, not even their sex.

Why is this new poll important? For one, it shows that parents are still, even if innately, holding on to their freedom to educate their children at this preliminary level. It also shows that conservatives do not need to attack progressive sexual ideology from the top-down. Instead, the most effective method may be to go from the ground-up: through a recovery of federalism.

As famous conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. was well known to have said, “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” In other words, the typical American knows what is good, and what constitutes a good life. Federalism is therefore a protection of a people’s natural goodness, allowing us to live our lives un-assaulted by ideologues. Parents need to be introduced to federalism—what it is and how it can help them. Politicians should also be introduced to federalism, because power with the people is a practical issue they can win on.

This new poll tells us that that progressive ideology has not yet subsumed the most basic level of parental responsibility: showing their child what it means to be a man or a woman. If we want our society to maintain the idea that there is such a thing as man or woman, our best chance is to put up a political fight for the rights of parents to educate their children—not President Obama and the faculty of Harvard University.

Anna Pfaff is the Investor Relations Manager for the American Principles Project.