Gender neutral toilets/ changing rooms?
Should they be a thing?
I say YES.
Whilst studying the values module many topical issues such as; people living in poverty, people experiencing racism, homophobic comments or the issue of gender neutral toilets undoubtedly comes up but the question is why.
Why are these things we class as ‘issues’ and why do they exist?
I struggle to grasp the concept that in a free society like ours people still have to hide or feel ashamed. Being transgender is not something which people should be made to feel ashamed of, if anything they should be proud.
An interesting TED talk by Ivan Coyote discussed their experience as a transgender and shares a devastating story about their friend’s daughter who didn’t ‘fit in’ with what society view as her birth gender. They tell us how she came home from preschool after peeing her pants because people in her class wouldn’t let her use the girl’s bathroom because she acted like a boy yet the teacher had told her to stay out of the boys bathroom because that wasn’t ‘acceptable’. Ivan dealt with this by telling the wee girl to hold it in if she could and wait till she gets home because they were so unaccepting. I find this disgusting. At the age of 4 children are being discriminated against for how they choose to behave in a social environment. It shouldn’t happen. But the reality is that it does.
If people are endeavouring to call their children gender neutral names such as ‘Max’ or ‘James’, and these be accepted by society, then surely society could become accepting of gender neutral toilets – after all what influence does it have on their lives?
However it’s not all bad. I recently visited Olympia – for those who don’t know what this is, it’s a swimming pool in Dundee – where they have a gender neutral changing room. As soon as I saw this I felt a sense of joy, progress even. In this changing room were a mix of people and amongst these not one person seemed to notice anyone around them. It begs the question of why do people actually fight against it? In a society like ours where so many people are so against things such as gender neutral changing rooms it was a sign of hope, I believe, that Olympia have gender neutral toilets and changing rooms showing that society can be united no matter what if people were more open minded.
As a training teacher to be I want to ensure that no child in my class ever has to experience the likes of what the girl in Ivan’s story did. As someone who identifies as straight I can honestly say I have no issue with having Gender Neutral Bathrooms or Changing Rooms and believe that they are a step in the right direction.
It’s time to make a change.
Prior to this lecture I had watched the materials and in particular felt the TED talk about growing up black was very empowering. I had the stereotypical definitions of what race, ethnicity and discrimination were however I was shocked to find out just how much they influence people’s everyday lives in that lecture.
Originally I came up with the following definitions;
Race – A group of people linked by their skin colour or origins
Ethnicity – The group in society your culture and beliefs belong to
Discrimination – Purposely excluding people in society based on their ethnicity, race or lifestyle.
An example explained to us was the story of Emmett Till a 14 year old boy falsely accused of ‘hitting’ on a white shop owners wife. It was explained to us that Emmett had later on been shot, beaten and left to die in the middle of nowhere. I personally thought this was disgusting however we were then informed of what happened after. Emmett’s uncle fought for Justice only for the opposition to be excused of their crimes. Later on it was revealed that the white female had lied about Emmett and that it wasn’t true. I felt the injustice of this story as the way people thought it was appropriate to treat Emmett based on his skin colour is disgusting and is made worse by the fact that it was all a lie.
This story in particular highlighted to me the extent of racism and its consequences and made me wonder why it still in 2017 occurs. I was shocked by how predominant racism still is especially in the US with the recent events in Charlottesville showing hundreds of people walking through the streets with torches chanting extremely racist things and discriminating against those of ethnic minorities.
In terms of discrimination the Bristol Bus Boycott story highlights the horrendous treatment of a black immigrant who was trying to get a job but was unsuccessful because the employer said they didn’t employ black people.
Before this lecture I had a very utopian view on this situation as I was under the impression that racism and discrimination was slowly decreasing however the current US situation highlights that it actually could be on the rise. I think it is extremely important to learn and be informed about these kinds of situations as it is so important that as people who are going to work with children of all ethnic origins that we are accepting and understand the troubles they often face so that we can attempt to resolve them.
I have inserted the Charlottesville event I referred to in this blog:
After Derek’s input on Resource Allocation the theme became significantly clearer. We were put into 5 groups and each given an envelope filled with resources and asked to create a resource out of the material we were given for first year students to use – basically a survival kit for new students. My group created a welcome week pack which included a map with the main buildings needed such as the Dalhousie Building and Bonar Hall for Matriculation. We also added in a timetable for welcome week, a pencil case and some main do’s and don’ts of welcome week.
At first I hadn’t acknowledged that some envelopes were larger than others and had more materials but after the first discussion about how people were going to use their materials it soon became clear that some groups had significantly more than others. Luckily, my group was in the middle so didn’t get too many resources but also didn’t get too little. This challenged our group to create a worthwhile resource with limited materials and challenged our creative minds.
It took a while but after our lecturer showed favouritism to some groups and was snappy with others it became clear that the theme was the attitude of people towards others with different lifestyles in terms of not all children being from well off families and some struggling to keep up. By giving some groups less materials they were forced to present a resource with very little. However this encourages them and shows us that although some people might have had more than others everyone will get equal opportunities to succeed and whilst they might not be there yet they have the ability to succeed and will.
I really enjoyed this seminar and was impressed by the approach taken to portray the theme!
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