This has been an issue going around for a short while now and rather than put any particular biased spin on it, I’d like to take a moment to dissect the issue and come to some terms with which to understand why it has so many people rankled.
First, let’s visit the practice of separate restrooms in our society. Why do we feel so afraid of the opposite sex? Why is it such a big deal who sits on the other side of that door? Understandably, it would be different if a restroom were equipped with urinals, but this is easily fixed with stalls. Do you find people bothering you while you’re inside often? Is there something that goes on once you leave that you’d be embarrassed for a member of the opposite sex to see? For me, I wash my hands, fix my hair, and go on about my business. I’m not checking stalls to see who’s on the other side, nor do I care what they’re doing while in there. I’ve never been in a restroom where stalls weren’t an option, and in most cases, are standard in women’s restrooms.
So why then do we separate the sexes? When you really think about it, it’s a practice that seems odd, at least to me. Sure, if it were a room with a bunch of toilets lined side by side, I’d be a bit more wary of the situation, but that’s not the case in the U.S. We value privacy and have stalls to ensure it. I’m not exactly sure why separate rooms are even necessary.
But I understand some people would feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to be in the same restroom as a member of the opposite sex. Why then are we not afraid of the opposite sex when we’re in any other room with them? Should I feel afraid sitting next to a woman in a stadium, or a woman afraid of a man next to her in a bar? What happens in restrooms that makes people so alarmed? In my experience, You do your business and are out the door in minutes.
Here’s where things get really confusing.
So, okay, we have separate restrooms for each sex, and are generally viewed as private areas the opposite sex should not enter. But what about gender? Many people believe that the sex of a person determines their gender. This is, however, not true. Gender identity issues are real and these people feel they were born the wrong sex. We’re talking a minuscule portion of the population. They generally not only dress and act like their perceived gender, but they also are often indistinguishable from others of their gender who happen to match their sex. The chances of you running into someone with gender identity disorder is extremely slim, and even then you’d never know. So why then has it become such a big deal who walks into the restroom if you wouldn’t know the difference anyway?
Many have made interesting claims as how this will open up the doors for sexual predators to prey on women in the restroom. I’m not exactly sure how this logic plays out (not to mention I’m more concerned about boys being sexually assaulted in restrooms since men can already enter there with no problem). The guidelines for gender identity use of restrooms doesn’t give free access to anyone entering the restroom. If a guy walks in who is clearly suspicious, you should immediately seek assistance. My question is, how is that different from now? What’s stopping a man from entering the women’s room now? A true sexual predator isn’t going to care what sign is on the door. These guidelines change nothing. It’s not allowing just anyone to enter the restroom, it’s specifically allowing those with gender identity disorders.
“What if my child sees something they shouldn’t?”
Another concern I’ve heard tossed around is, “What if my child sees something they shouldn’t?” First off, if you’re concerned about your child in the restroom, you should accompany them. Secondly, I refer to my previous comment. Unless your child is peeking under stall doors, what are they going to see? Most likely, they might notice the girl who looks a bit too masculine, or the boy who looks a bit too feminine, but they’re more likely to see these people outside the restroom than inside (not to mention they’re more likely to see something inappropriate in movies than in public).
The last point I want to make is the most important and the one that is the COMMON SENSE part of this article. The entire purpose of these issues stemmed from communities barring people with gender identity issues from using the restroom. This is a political and social move to “stir the pot” if you will against the LGBT community. Many are frustrated and upset about gay marriage being made legal, they have turned these issues into an “attack on their religious freedoms.” Allowing people equal access does not take away from anyone’s religious freedom. It’s been insinuated, that selling a product to a gay couple who is getting married is equated to participating in their marriage. By that logic, a person who sells a gun is a participant in a murder. The person who sells a car, is a participant of the accident. Restaurants become participants in a person’s eating habits and by extension are responsible for their obesity. I think you get where I’m going with this.
There is a line.
A really dear friend of mine is struggling with this very issue, and in the true nature of our friendship, used the line “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” The problem here is that we’re not talking about needs. In our current political and social climate it’s, “The beliefs of the many outweighs the beliefs of the few, or the one.” Religious freedom doesn’t work that way. The entire reason for separation of church and state is to avoid any one religion overpowering another, any one person’s beliefs to set the stage against those with opposing beliefs. That’s the whole reason we rebelled against England in the first place. We didn’t want a state sponsored religion telling us what to do.
I understand people’s frustration with these issues and am quite honestly torn myself. I get why people feel like there is this invisible war going on. Much has happened too fast. People haven’t had time to digest the changes and feel personally attacked because they perceive these changes as directly affecting them. But do they really? Has the marriage of a gay or lesbian couple affected you in anyway. Has it stopped you from going to church? Going to the store? Watching a movie? I’d bet not. It only affects you in the sense that you may feel it’s wrong and goes against God’s will. But isn’t that the point? Isn’t it supposed to be YOUR beliefs and YOUR personal relationship with God? How does someone else’s choices affect yours? Has their decisions in any way diminished YOUR relationship with God?
I’ve never had to walk in the shoes of someone who was dealing with gender identity disorder. Perhaps we should. Perhaps we need perspective into the argument before making decisions so blindly. These people are going through very real, sometimes life-threatening struggles. They feel rejected enough already. My understanding of Christianity was to always “love thy neighbor,” not fear them. I don’t see how making the world a more accepting place goes against anyone’s religious convictions.
Rather than picking on people because they are different, perhaps we should focus our energy on making everyone safer, being a community united rather than factions divided.
Religious Liberty affords people the right to worship and explore their religious convictions without any government involvement or fear of retribution. It does not, however, guarantee that your specific beliefs, whether in the majority or not, should be imposed on others. While you may not disagree with the others, it does not give anyone the right to take away other’s freedoms. Once you cross that line, once you use your convictions to deny someone else their rights and freedoms, it’s no longer Religious Liberty, it’s become Religious Persecution.
Bathrooms are what they are. Places for people to do their business. Most I’ve seen are private and can accommodate anyone’s bodily functions regardless of how they’re released. Common Sense has been and always will be the best practice in matters such as these. Rather than picking on people because they are different, perhaps we should focus our energy on making everyone safer, being a community united rather than factions divided.
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