Editor's Note: Americans United recently concluded its annual essay contest for high school students. Nearly 500 entries were received. The winner this year is Lekha Sunder, who will be a senior this fall at Lamar High School in Houston. Sunder received a scholarship prize of $1,500.
The second-place winner was Autumn Jenkins, who graduated from the Maryvale Preparatory School in Lutherville, Md., last month. She plans to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall, majoring in either international relations or international business. She received $1,000.
Ethan Cantrell, a recent graduate of Wheeling Park High School in Wheeling, W. Va., won third place. He plans to major in anthropology at West Virginia University this fall. He was awarded $500.
Church & State is pleased to print Sunder's winning essay. Thanks to all who entered.
A group of citizens in North Carolina believed former governor Pat McCrory was so concerned with transgender individuals using the bathroom of their identity that, in his free time, he swam in the local sewers to make sure boys' and girls' waste were separate. (Editor's Note: The story that reported this was from a parody site.)
And while there is still debate over what McCrory does in his down time, what he did while in office is well understood. The passage of North Carolina's House Bill 2, or the "bathroom bill," was the first official bill to preempt county and municipal anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, 16 states are currently considering legislation to limit access to bathrooms based on biological sex.
The surge of state ordinances that stifle LGBTQ rights is disquieting, primarily because their focal point is schools, a place where students deserve to feel included. And while at first glance, the legal battles in support of these bills seem rooted in innocent concepts such as privacy and security, supporters also allude to religious values, a clear infringement on the separation of church and state.
These ordinances intend to halt the momentum of growing equality in the country and are a blockade to civil rights. No court case concerns these rights more than Gloucester County School Board v. Gavin Grimm, which was set to resolve the issue once and for all. Through Grimm's story, we can analyze how religion is being used to inhibit transgender rights in schools, how this affects the transgender community and what students can do...