If you consumed any kind of media in the last few weeks, you know there is a real crisis happening in Texas. There are boys who identify as girls who want to use girls’ bathrooms.
Oh, that doesn’t sound like a crisis to you?
Me neither. I find it particularly silly knowing that more than 60 percent of residents of India do not have toilets in their homes. At least we have plenty of toilets to serve our population, and our culture dictates that we use them. Admittedly, given the option, I’d rather be forced to discuss who can potty where, rather than how to reduce the instances of public defecation, however, I have become increasingly frustrated by the obsession over bathrooms at the expense of real problems facing our country and our state.
Though I tend to take a live and let live approach to life, I recognize there are people out there, the Texas Attorney General for one, who are outraged by the idea of people with male biology who identify as females consequently desiring to use women’s bathrooms. I have no intent to judge these folks, nor to diminish their beliefs. However, in a world where public problems compete for the attention of the media, policy makers, and the citizenry, it greatly upsets me that the issue of public bathroom usage has usurped one of the most critical public policy challenges that will ever face our state.
There are children in our community who are physically, sexually, and psychologically abused every day of their lives. They are neglected. They are living without access to food and basic necessities. They are forced to attempt to reconcile that the person they trust most is also the person who inflicts upon them unfathomable pain. While pundits and culture warriors rage on about toilets, some of these children are dying at the hands of those who are supposed to love and protect them. Children who make it out alive are often forever changed. Studies have shown that the effects of child abuse can plague survivors throughout adulthood.
There are countless reasons why this problem is routinely ignored. Child abuse is uncomfortable to talk about. A public policy solution to this sort of problem might cost a lot of money. Worse, the solution may be more complex than a matter of funding. The solution may be so seemingly elusive, it's easier just to ignore the issue altogether.
This issue of child welfare competes for attention with problems that people face each day – economic worries, congested roads, rising property appraisals. Abused children aren’t in voters' faces the way these other issues are. As a result, policy makers don’t hear about it, and thus don’t do anything about it, until terrible tragedies occur and are reported in the media. As Ross Ramsey recently wrote, issues like this one are "episodic," failing to hold the public's attention for long.
Solving our state's child welfare challenge will take a multi-pronged approach, including additional funding for CPS, policy changes, public awareness efforts, and the continued participation of nonprofits and faith communities. While I don’t claim to know the specific answer to this problem, my goal is to ensure that the issue of child welfare remains top of mind so we can continue thoughtful discussions that will eventually lead to a solution.
Abused and neglected children need us. We need to rise to the challenge.