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Gender-neutral bathrooms aren’t complete ‘safe-zones’

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Gender-neutral bathrooms aren’t complete ‘safe-zones’

If gender-neutral bathrooms are implemented, everyone could use the bathroom at the same time, but there would need to be set precautions.

If gender-neutral bathrooms are implemented, everyone could use the bathroom at the same time, but there would need to be set precautions.

Ted Eyton

If gender-neutral bathrooms are implemented, everyone could use the bathroom at the same time, but there would need to be set precautions.

Ted Eyton

Ted Eyton

If gender-neutral bathrooms are implemented, everyone could use the bathroom at the same time, but there would need to be set precautions.

Justin Som, Staff Writer

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As a conservative Democrat, I completely support the efforts of transgender people to erase discrimination from the general populace. Like many Americans, I have seen that there are similarities between the African-American civil rights movement of the 1960s and the LGBT movements of today. Yet, when it comes to the most recent call by the LGBT community for gender-neutral bathrooms in schools I support them only under certain conditions.

Even though the idea of a “gender-neutral” bathroom does have undeniable merits, there are still flaws and set conditions that must be attended to upon their installment.

To be direct, the main problem with “gender-neutral” bathrooms is safety.

Now, before readers jump to conclusions, I am not talking about a threat of rape. Yes, the argument by many conservative Republicans does center around sexual assault occurring in these restrooms as a result of both male and female sexes being in the same restroom, but such a claim is obviously a bit of a stretch.

Most cases of rape don’t even occur in bathrooms. In fact, according to RAINN, an anti-sexual assault group, only seven percent of rapes even took place in a school environment, with a large percentage being in public places or in the homes of people who were close to the victim.

A gender-neutral bathroom wouldn’t have fewer restrictions than a normal bathroom. The idea that a gender-neutral bathroom would have less security than a traditional single-gender bathroom is a problem with rape culture itself, not the restrooms.

What do you think about the new gender-neutral bathroom in D Hall?

  • I don't think these bathrooms are necessary or a good idea. (65%, 690 Votes)
  • I think it's a great step for Carlmont and a great resource for students! (30%, 318 Votes)
  • Why is this stuff with the bathrooms such a big deal? (4%, 41 Votes)
  • I don't know enough about the issues with bathrooms. (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,055

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For instance, should a sex offender be really set on harming victims, who may already be pre-chosen in their mind, the offender wouldn’t be deterred from entering an opposite-gender bathroom that is unsecured. It is certainly against the social norm for an opposite gender to enter another restroom, but once an offender breaks out of this mindset, there is no real shielding against a possible sexual offense.

On the other hand, there is an undeniable problem with the social implication and outlook that will be thrown onto the people who use the new restroom.

The purpose of a gender-neutral bathroom is to provide a safe place for all to use the restroom comfortably. To even come this far with such a measure, transgender people have argued that they needed it because they were constantly feeling animosity from other people when they used the restroom of their own choice.

Yet, the usage of such bathrooms would only increase the targeting of these transgender people.

Right now, much of the discrimination against a transgender person is limited to inside the restroom, where people are more prone to noting differences. Upon leaving that restroom, most of that antagonism would diminish if the transgender person didn’t openly reveal their gender.

The case with gender-neutral bathrooms is this: animosity toward a transgender individual will not vanish when they depart from the bathroom.

When people see the gender-neutral bathroom being used, it would be natural to assume that the user could be transgender despite the fact that anyone can use the restroom, and not only transgender people. Even if the user is not transgender, an onlooker might assume that the user is a member of or even just a sympathizer to the LGBT community.

This may cause higher victimization of LGBT people and their supporters by hate groups, who would simply have to look toward the gender-neutral bathroom and determine their targets from that smaller sample. In this case though, anyone who uses the bathroom is a possible victim of such an attack.

In 2014, there were 1402 hate crimes based on sexual orientation in the United States, according to the FBI.

With the discrimination against this community clearly a reality, the purpose of gender-neutral bathrooms faces some significant disadvantages. Yet, the idea of a gender-neutral bathroom is definitively beneficial. There are just some issues that need to be handled before installation.

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About the Writer
Justin Som, Staff Writer

Justin Som is a senior at Carlmont High School who participates in community service every month to help the city. He enjoys arguing with others and is...

11 Comments

11 Responses to “Gender-neutral bathrooms aren’t complete ‘safe-zones’”

  1. Eli on May 25th, 2016 4:18 pm

    I’m so extremely disappointed to hear that people have been turning the all gender bathroom at Carlmont into a joke. The comfort of the transgender community is. not. something. that. cisgender. people. can. “decide.” in. a. poll. period.

    The “issues” you are referring to that need to be “handled before the installation” is one thing- EDUCATING PEOPLE. That’s why the GSA made those flyers and put them up around school. If people took this bathroom seriously and not as a joke, this wouldn’t be an issue right now. Sequoia High School has multiple all gender bathrooms, and their school community accepted it a lot better than ours did. I’m ashamed to be a student at Carlmont right now.

    (side note- to Justin Som: gender identity and sexual attraction are two completely different things independent of each other. please correct your statistics about hate crimes targeted due to sexuality- that’s a whole different thing.)

    This bathroom is not enhancing rape culture. If you’re scared that that’s an issue, simply don’t use the D hall bathrooms. There are plenty of other bathrooms on campus.

  2. Jay on May 25th, 2016 5:18 pm

    I would love to see someone who is transgender writing about issues in the trans community! Cisgender people do not have a place to criticize or devalue the wants, needs, decisions, and actions of the trans community that are doing no harm to anyone. We know what we want and what is best for us. Having to deal with oppression, rude comments and so much more is already part of every trans person’s life. And the trans community has decided that it’s better to deal with the ridicule that might come with all-gender bathrooms and educate people as necessary than to wait and try to make every single person accept it. Because the unfortunate truth that I hope will someday change is that some people will be jerks about it no matter how much you educate them. But until that reality somehow changes, we can’t wait around and make room for the jerks. That is letting them win. We have to stand up and do it anyway if we ever want to make any progress.

  3. Anonymous Aardvark on May 25th, 2016 5:25 pm

    @Eli,

    The poll isn’t deciding anything; It only serves to gauge public opinion on the school’s action. There is no need to tell cisgender people to stop deciding the comfort of the trans community, because it isn’t happening to begin with.

    Justin Som’s argument is that the issue [of educating people to be less prejudiced against the trans community] has to be resolved before gender-inclusive bathrooms can succeed in their goal. To solve this issue, one has to change the beliefs of at least 17 people [acc. to the poll], most probably more. If the polled population is taken to be a representative sample of the student population at carlmont, [which it shouldn’t, but just for the sake of argument], one would need to change the minds of 25% of 2194 = approx. 549 people. Such a task cannot be done by a simple flyer campaign.

    Sequoia High accepted their multiple gender neutral bathrooms. But Carlmont is not Sequoia. Perhaps a good idea would be to investigate why this is the case. Take what you learn and try to figure how to emulate the results of acceptance at Carlmont.

    Nowhere in his article did Som claim that the bathroom enhances rape culture.

    Again, I want to stress that [from my reading of his article] while Som believes that gender neutral bathrooms are generally a good thing, he does not think the time is right for such a policy to be implemented.

  4. Shea on May 25th, 2016 5:39 pm

    Bathrooms were already a war zone before. We don’t need columns like this making it worse.
    Reprising what Eli said: The comfort of the transgender community is. not. something. that. cisgender. people. can. “decide.” in. a. poll. period.
    This bathroom is not hurting anyone or posing danger. If people are uncomfortable with the bathroom, they don’t have to use it. If someone is hurt by somebody inside these bathrooms, they can take it up with admin.

  5. Stacey Hughes on May 25th, 2016 6:51 pm

    As a Carlmont Alumni, it makes me proud that my former schools efforts are geared towards the creation of unity among diversity. I have been in college for the last three years and I have learned more about the inequality in this world due to being different from the norms in our society more than I did while in high school. Just by watching the news in the recent months broke my heart that people are capable of causing so much destruction all because people want to live in a world where they are accepted. This resistance to progress, and the lack of empathy towards other people appalls me. This world is riddled with figures in the media, such as Donald Trump and other news sources, encouraging people to act uncivilized towards a targeted group of people. I strongly agree that we need to teach people what empathy and respect looks like. As the upcoming generation we need to respond to violence, oppression, and hatred, with peace, acceptance, and compassion. Responding to violence with more violence because we think we are right will make us only be the same as them.

  6. Anonymous on May 25th, 2016 10:36 pm

    @eli

    Just because Justin presents potential problems with transgender bathrooms does not mean he wants to see the LGBT world burn, which seems to be what you are implying. He is trying to shine a light on legitimate issues that may be overlooked en route to total equality.

    Regarding rape culture: nowhere in his article does he suggest that these bathrooms facilitate rape culture. He actually makes a point to state that his point was not about rape, in contrast to the conservative establishment. Perhaps a closer read of the text would benefit you.

    Regarding the poll: Do you actually think one online poll, who’s participants cannot be verified, will be used to shape major school policy decisions? It’s much more likely that this was implemented to provide students with a resource to understand where the student body lies on this issue.

    Regarding the flyers: While that effort undertaken by the GSA is courageous, only using flyers to change public opinion on a topic as divided as this seems naive. To put in different terms, imagine if a group of students put up posters and flyers promoting the return of strict, laissez faire economics. Now they believe their cause is just, like you do with yours, but if you were to see this propaganda in the halls, would it seriously change what you view as correct economic policy? Probably not. Before you say that the GSA is educating the school population, perhaps line up more effective, comprehensive examples.

    On a broader note, the fact that Justin Som has gotten hate mail attempting to suppress or ridicule the way he thinks, along with the need that I, and Anonymous Ardvark to go incognito when voicing anti-liberal points of view, is concerning.

  7. Anonymous on May 25th, 2016 10:57 pm

    **News Flash**
    A condescending flyer campaign from one group of students at Carlmont High School is not a successful method to impose a leftist agenda on an entire student body. Contrary to popular belief, the people who are uncomfortable with this new and abrupt change, which seems to be the majority of folks, at least based on this poll, are not all transphobic. In fact, most have genuine and valid fears of sexual harassment at the hands of perverts who are now free to take advantage of the “All Gender” private enclosure opportunity. Again, this is NOTHING against the transgender or nonbinary community. It is against pedophile posers.

  8. Anonymous Aardvark on May 25th, 2016 11:26 pm

    Again, this article does not throw any sort of hate upon the transgender community. Such an interpretation can only be due to a misreading of the text. I encourage everyone to read the text a bit more closely. Glean Justin’s actual message without filtering it through your existing beliefs, before criticising it.

    This is especially pertinent for commentor Shae, as the latter half of their comment revolves around countering a point Justin explicitly said he was not making.

    If you are going to attack the article, do it by identifying faulty assumptions or logical steps and criticising those. Don’t bother attacking arguments that the article does not make.

  9. Jay on May 26th, 2016 12:04 am

    @Anonymous,

    First of all, I want to start out by saying that I am deeply sorry that Justin Som is receiving hate mail. Generating hate should not be anyone’s goal and I would be ashamed if it was one of the members of GSA. In meetings we often emphasize how to talk about these issues and educate them in a way that is non-accusatory. Thus, I will try my best to do so in the following:

    The problem with the poll is that it gives cisgender people the illusion that they can say what is best for the transgender community. It reveals that cisgender students do not take into consideration the needs of nonbinary and transgender students. Cisgender people are saying that it is “not necessary.” These bathrooms may not be necessary for cisgender students, but that does not mean that they are not necessary. These bathrooms are very much necessary for the transgender community, and no cisgender person has the right to say otherwise because it is not an issue that concerns them. It is purely an issue for the trans community, and if the community does not welcome the opinions of cisgender people, that is perfectly reasonable. You would not want a complete stranger telling you how your family should live.

    On the flyers: education is a two-way street. The flyers actually have a very complete explanation of the bathroom situation, but students have to actually be willing to read them, and if they are not, then there is no possible way that you can hold the GSA accountable. In addition, GSA has events such as Ally Week, where we have a table in the quad with rainbow ribbons and an Ally Pledge, and the representatives are always more than happy to answer any questions that students have and even give them a quick crash-course on the LGBT community and issues that the comunity faces. GSA also promotes National Day of Silence every spring and this year we sent out a video explaining it to every teacher to show their classes. Finally, all students are welcome to any GSA meeting. Most of these meetings are very educational and we talk about issues such as gender-neutral bathrooms. GSA is also hoping to make an announcement very soon about the new bathrooms. The final decision and change was made in only a few short days, so you cannot expect GSA to have an entire lesson on this subject prepared immediately. Even with all of this, students still have to be willing to learn, and if they are not then they have to be held accountable for that, not the GSA. There is also a myriad of online resources to learn about all-things-LGBT if students do not find the posters to be satisfactory. Before you say that the GSA is not educating the school population, perhaps accept our efforts to help the school and thereby get educated yourself. Do not criticize a group until you have actually looked into what they are doing.

    tl;dr: if you couldn’t be bothered to read this and try to understand it, you are undeniably part of the problem because you are unwilling to learn despite my and GSA’s best attempts at reaching out.

  10. Jay on May 29th, 2016 7:55 pm

    @Anonymous who left the *Newsflash*

    First, I would like to start by saying that I mean this in a kind, purely educational way and not as an attack on you or anyone. I merely hope to make you think about new points of the argument.

    Please read my above comment regarding the flyers, if you have not already.
    I agree with you that the majority of people uncomfortable with this change most likely do not hate trans people and rather have other concerns. However, there are no confirmed cases of sexual assault by people pretending to be transgender or taking advantage of all gender bathrooms to commit their crime. Even if there was, the problem is not with the bathroom. It is with sex offenders. Therefore, instead of adressing the supposed risks of all-gender bathrooms, maybe people should be taking action to educate young people about respecting other people’s bodies and holding sex offenders accountable for their actions. In addition, trans people, whom these bathrooms are really meant for, do not have these fears of being assaulted just because it is an all-gender bathroom. Assault of trans people is a relevent issue, but not in the context of bathrooms. Cisgender people who do have these fears are not forced to use the bathrooms. So why should they worry about it? Denying trans people something that will be beneficial to them, such as these bathrooms, just because of perceived (and not actually concrete) impacts on cisgender people (which can easily be avoided by using a different bathroom), is transphobic. Transphobia extends beyond just hating trans people. Transphobia includes anything that negatively impacts the trans community, and only trans people can decide what is transphobic. So, if people do not want to be transphobic, they should listen to the trans community and change their words and actions.

  11. lizz on November 3rd, 2016 10:33 pm

    I totally agree

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Gender-neutral bathrooms aren’t complete ‘safe-zones’