A whole lot of schools are about to give back some serious federal dollars over a toilet or two. It mystifies me. Federal dollars are tough to come by. I know this because The Big Boss always has to talk about money. Eight million this, three hundred thousand that, grants, Perkins…money, deficit, shortfall, conservation… There are a whole lot of belts to tighten in education. You’d be crazy to flush money down the toilet.
Money’s important. So important someone said it “makes the world go round.” It could be that person took accounting, not science. Even so, the facts can’t be disputed. Cash is king.
So, for all those schools threatening to give back federal dollars over transgender toilets, I have one simple request.
SEND IT HERE! I’ll buy Chromebooks, faster wi-fi, and I’ll hire an engineer to set up neighborhood hotspots for kids to do my assignments.
Then, I’ll buy teachers unlimited supplies and personal assistants to cover classes for those moments when they’re squirming to use bathrooms but they can’t find someone to watch their class.
The Truth about Gender-Based Bathrooms: It’s no big deal.
Do you have gender signs on your bathrooms at home? I don’t–I’m a one-bathroom household so it would get pretty tricky. Do your friends send you to their men’s room when you’re visiting? Does God at church? Is the one outhouse at the farmer’s market marked with a gender?
Finding a bathroom to slap a gender-neutral sign on in a school is no big deal. I use family bathrooms when I’m traveling. They’re great places to take my opposite-gender child.
Confession: the other day, one of my co-workers was searching for the meaning of life in the women’s room near guidance. I couldn’t wait, so I used the mens’ room. Usually teachers are lightning fast in the lav. I don’t know who it was, but she must’ve been avoiding a rough class, dealing with a lunch gone wrong, or reading email, because she was barricaded inside.
Teachers don’t have time to wait in bathroom lines. I didn’t think twice. Men’s room, here I come!
Both bathrooms are single-occupant rooms with a toilet, sink, soap dispenser, trash can, and paper towels. The men’s room is half the size of the women’s room–hardly enough space for sitting with a Sports Illustrated, but we’ve all got iPhones these days, so it’ll do.
So, I used mens’ room, and you know what? Nothing happened.
There was a time in my prior career I was much less lucky. I was at a big conference, and I was desperate. I ran to the bathroom.
Just when I locked the door to my stall I heard voices. Men. I looked through the crack. There were urinals out there, blue tile, and a group of coworkers and other men from the session.
The coffee affected my brain–I’d gone into the men’s room by mistake.
I was trapped. I couldn’t leave–what if I saw a penis or discovered one of my cool colleagues wore tighty whiteys? What if the FBI crashed through the door and said, “You….you’ve violated their civil rights!” Or if HR came in and accused me of sexually harassing the men? What if the men thought I was interested in them and just appraising their “situations”?
I could lose my career over this on a good day or end up on a milk carton if things went sour.
I was stuck.
After about twenty minutes, the stream of men’s voices faded and I decided to make a run for it. I looked through the crack for an all-clear and for feet under the stalls. I ran to the women’s room next door praying no men were about to enter.
I escaped the men’s room. And you know what? Nothing happened.
A Note on Transgendered Bathrooms and the Kids Who Might Use Them
Many students–gay, straight, transgendered–wish for privacy in bathrooms. They’ll ask to go to the nurse to use the bathroom or won’t shower after gym since it’s a big open room. Trust me–I smell the results. All kids deserve the level of privacy they need–straight, gay, and transgendered alike. Adults, too. I know many adults who need privacy in the loo.
A bathroom is just a bathroom–it shouldn’t require a birth certificate or a declared status.
Transgender students are in your classroom.
Ten or fifteen years ago, it was difficult for kids to come out as gay. Today, I have all types of kids in my classes who aren’t ashamed to be who they are. It’s a compliment to me, to my school, to their peers and society.
We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. Many kids aren’t sure of their identities yet and are confused. Some kids know exactly who they are from a very young age–and are not accepted. Because of this, depression rates for these kids is through the roof. 40% of homeless teens are LGBT.
We’ve got world peace on the docket for this election but we’re fighting over bathrooms? Seems odd to me.
Solution: Put stalls, shower curtains and dividers in all bathrooms and locker rooms so all students can have privacy. Use the federal dollars you’re not giving back.
Then, dedicate a private bathroom to “everyone.” Take the gender sign off. Label it something clever like “Lav,” “Bathroom,” or “Shitter.”
Then go about your day. See what happens.
My guess? Nothing. People will use the bathroom, flush, and life will continue. Parents visiting schools will take their opposite-gender kids with them to the lav, people who aren’t feeling well and need some privacy can have their space. And yes, transgender students can pee.
Everyone’s request will be fulfilled.
Then, you can keep your federal money, and buy every teacher you see some something cool for their classroom, or better yet–stock that bathroom with two-ply toilet paper and a box of kleenex for when some kid cries over my grade.