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Can a high school choir's 'safe space' force everyone to sing the same tune?

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Canyon junior Percy Ragsdale, who identifies as transmasculine and has a preference for only "them" and "they" pronouns, notes that Ariel May's classroom is particularly distinct from other choirs. (Photo by Jeff White/Invision for H&R Block/AP Images)

"Safe spaces" are a growing trend in academia, but one California choir instructor is taking safe spaces to a new level.

At Canyon High School in Anaheim, Calif., high school choir instructor Ariel May has designated her classroom to be a “safe zone.” According to a report by KPCC, the choir room is adorned with rainbow-colored signs that read “SAFE SPACE.” Students do not have to conform to gender roles and are even offered a third choice in performance attire, as opposed to the gender binary tuxedo or skirt.

Despite what May thinks about her safe zone classroom, safe spaces do not create an open environment where students are encouraged to display their personal beliefs and ingenuity. Instead, the complete opposite occurs in safe spaces: students become insulated by an unambiguous mindset which often deviates from reality. Safe spaces actually force students to adhere to one set of beliefs instead of creating a space where they feel comfortable to voice their own opinions.

Even the basic notion that there are two genders, male and female — which was considered basic biology until a few years ago — is now viewed as hate speech in many safe spaces. It’s safe to assume that the constant misinformation reverberated into the heads of young students is unhealthy, and potentially harmful to society. Unsurprisingly, however, this notion of more than two genders is playing out in May's high school choir class.

Canyon junior Percy Ragsdale, who identifies as transmasculine, told KPCC that May’s classroom is particularly distinct from other choirs.

"I grew up in Texas and I was in choirs there from when I was 3, and it was always very binary," Ragsdale described to KPCC. "Like if you were a soprano or alto, you were in dresses and makeup and all of that."

Ragsdale prefers “they” and “them” pronouns. According to Gender Wiki, "Transmasculine is a term used to describe transgender people who were assigned female at birth, but identify with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.” Based on this explanation, Ragsdale could classify as Trans Man, Demiguy, a masculine multigender, gender fluid, or nonbinary gender individual.

"So I mostly identify as a guy, but sometimes I'm more in the in-between zone," Ragsdale stated. "I'm comfortable with wearing a skirt sometimes, and sometimes I'm not."

Choir instructor May is perfectly fine with the snafu state of mind her student has found “themself” in.

"I think it's pretty normal for us to go over [what safe spaces mean] in terms of religious beliefs and race – and oftentimes we don't add to that sexual orientation or gender identity, and so I've made it a point to make sure those are listed," May stated.

Unfortunately, May has done her best to create a “safe” or welcoming space for some students but has failed to do so for those who hold opinions in contrast to the progressive Left. For example, students who might oppose the notion that there are more than two genders may not be comfortable voicing so without facing ridicule or ostracization.

To those like May who promote safe spaces at educational institutions, freedom of speech isn’t an imperative principle. Rather, it is a burden that certain students who carry a disdain for facts in political or social discourse must face.

College, university, and certainly high school students do not benefit from safe spaces. Instead, a large swath of students are graduating our educational institutions with an outlook on the world that can be described as nothing short of draconian.

"Students will say, 'The real world isn't like choir. Everyone's way nicer here, and everyone's so accepting here,' and I tell them, 'Your job is to create that outside,'" May explained.

This “outside” that May conceptualizes is the real world, and students will not be prepared for it in adulthood if choir directors and other academics continue to keep students in “safe spaces.”

Isaiah Denby is a college freshman from Tampa Bay, Fla., studying economics and political science.