The Fight For Gender Neutral Restrooms

The Fight For Gender Neutral Restrooms

Gender neutral restrooms are the hot topic this month because of President Trump's recent change on their policy that President Obama put into place. This article talks about the political controversy surrounding the restrooms and my experience inside of one.
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This February 22nd, President Donald Trump rescinded the President Obama era rule that claimed Title IX allowed transgender students the use of whichever bathroom they identified with (Fox News). 44th President Obama issued the guideline in May of 2016 that the New York Times describes by stating, "that was sent to all school districts, outlining what schools should do to ensure that no student was discriminated against. The letter did not have the force of law, but it contained an implicit threat: Schools that did not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal dollars."

The effect of Trump's law will not have an immediate or great impact on schools in the United States according to this New York Times article that states, "Individual schools will remain free to let transgender students use the bathrooms with which they are most comfortable. And the effect of the administration’s decision will not be immediate because a federal court had already issued a nationwide injunction barring enforcement of the Obama order." The effect of the bill notwithstanding, Trump's order caused those on the left and the right wing to split their decision politically.

The right's outlook on transgender bathrooms is straightforward. Their issue is not with the bathrooms, but with the people that may misuse them. The right believes that anyone could claim that they are another gender and use any bathroom they want because there is no one definition of someone being transgender. The right worries that someone with malicious intent could go into another gender's bathroom and take advantage of being alone with the opposite gender in a private place.

The left's is an argument against the idea that someone would take advantage of the liquid gender policy in restrooms. The left also states that transgender bathroom will help the community and aid in the fight for transgender rights. The left points to the statistics that state that transgender people have a disproportionately high rate of suicide. USA Today published an article claiming "Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide" and states, "41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public." The left's argument relies on the idea that a choice of restroom will help the transgender community and that the idea of gender is a societal construct rather than biological.

Both the left and the right's arguments can be seen in action on the Fox News interview linked earlier and here.

While usually I do not engage with political controversy, transgender restrooms affected me at my school. This year I was between classes and headed to a restroom. I happened to be in a different building than I have my classes, and it took me a second to find the restrooms. I found the women's restroom, and according to my binary thoughts on my gender in regards to restrooms, I headed for the next restroom. To my surprise, I did not find a male restroom. Instead, I found an "all gender restroom." I looked around to make sure I was not in the wrong place. When nothing else seemed wrong, I went into the restroom.

Inside of the restroom, it looked normal for a men's restroom. Urinals lined the walls, and there were a few stalls to the side. I took care of my business while other males used the restroom, and I left. There was nothing remarkable about that restroom besides the sign.

It appears to me that the school felt pressure on the laws under President Obama, and they took the most logical route. To not have their funding come into question, the school took off the men's restroom sign and put an all gender restroom sign in its place. This is pretty smart. Less than $20 for a sign and some glue beats the multiple thousand dollar cost of remodeling the building and putting in a new restroom. Taking into account that the school's restroom action came at a time when they were making much needed infrastructure improvements make the cheap men to all gender restroom swap seem more logical.

My thinking point after all this is that transgender restrooms are based on equality, but swapping one gender's restroom sign and taking another off is not equal. Have an all gender and an all female restroom is not transcending from binaries. When it come to the money I would like to invest in my school, I would rather it go towards quality of education than an all gender restroom. This is not because I think they are not needed, but because institutions of higher education are largely tolerant of diversity, and universities will make a bigger impact on the whole student body with a better infrastructure.

Transgender bathrooms on school campuses will continue. I speculate that it will be at the institution's behest whether they build a new bathroom or not. If it came down to replacing broken classroom equipment or a new all-gender restroom, I think new classroom equipment would be the better investment. If someone argues that this situation will make going to school hard on transgenders, that might be true. However, a bathroom is a small issue on the map of a larger force transgenders face. To support transgender students and all students, schools already have counselors in place to assist with troublesome thoughts and to fight against bullying.

If society thinks that a bathroom is the only thing between them and equality, they are sorely mistaken. With the attentions shifting to education, there might be hope for people to see where they can dispel their ignorance and intolerance.

Cover Image Credit: Whatever Just Wash Your Hands

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.

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Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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