Teacher Vica Steel previously sparked controversy with a “coming-out video” as a transgender woman, asking elementary students to use the pronoun “Mx.” However, the educator returned to the headlines with a new proposal for the students’ bathrooms, and it caused a backlash.
After living for decades as Mark “Vince” Busenbark, a Frank Allis Elementary School teacher made headlines by showing a “coming out” video to children as young as 5 years old. The beloved science teacher, who goes by the name Vica Steel, then asked children to use the word “Mx.” instead of “Mr. or Mrs.” and the pronouns “them, they, and their.”
Expectedly, Wisconsin parents were outraged over the video, which used a children’s book to teach students about transgenderism and disparage those who don’t support it. Many parents complained that they should have been notified of the school-approved presentation. However, despite their concerns, the educational video was just the beginning of Steel’s plans for change.
After fighting parental complaints about the “coming out” presentation, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) landed in the middle of yet another potential legal battle. According to Townhall, the district has been threatened with a lawsuit over its policy on student gender identity after Steel announced that transgender school officials must have the right to use the student bathrooms.
The issue began with an open letter in which Steel claims the right to use the girls’ bathroom in order to not have to use the staff restrooms on the next floor up.
“In the 23 years that I’ve been in the district, students and staff have always used the same multi-stall bathrooms in our schools,” Steel wrote. “Does that shock you? Women using the same bathrooms as girls? Can I ask you to name any public space that segregates bathroom use by age?”
In the letter, Steel admitted to utilizing the students’ bathroom before, which brought on a complaint asking the elementary school to implement a policy prohibiting staff members from using the same bathroom as the children.
“In January, I started using the same multi-stall bathroom as the women on my wing of my school,” Steel continued. “Yes students use that bathroom too. Women have used that bathroom for decades. No complaints. I used it. I am an open and out transgender woman. I fought decades with the trauma that our society laid on me.”
Steel’s demand for teachers to use student bathrooms pertaining to the gender with which they identify immediately garnered support from the teachers’ union as well as Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI). The school district was placed under immense pressure to allow Steel and other transgender officials to use the bathroom of their choice or face a lawsuit.
The union’s Equity and Diversity Committee, as well as MTI’s board of directors, released a statement saying that they “stand with Vica Steel and all our transgender, gender non-binary, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied (LGBTQIA) staff. MTI supports staff’s and students’ right to fully exercise their individually identified expression in an environment free from discrimination of any kind.”
Steel called for “allies” and “other voices” to support the proposal, adding, “I cannot do it alone.” However, the mere threat of a lawsuit is more than enough to convince a school district to cave to most demands.
The MTI has warned that, if transgender and transitioning students are granted access to the bathroom of their choice, the same rule must apply to teachers and staff members. Despite the controversy, Steel continued to use the girls’ bathroom across from the science classroom.
Many have argued that Steel has proposed a winning policy because, once we recognize that a transgender person is the gender with which they identify, we must reconcile that they are entitled to all the same amenities associated with that gender.
Unfortunately, no one has asked the children if they feel safe in their bathrooms with or without the policy in place. Of course, the decision will likely dismiss their concerns in order to avoid legal action.