Opinion: Houston just took a step back

Carlyle Addy

​Houston recently rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance named the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The people from Houston probably know it better as “the bathroom bill,” which is funny because only one side of the discussion was talking about bathrooms.

My hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, rejected their own “bathroom bill” last year. The main argument against the bill, which was introduced to prohibit “discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy,” as stated on the November ballot, was that it could let anyone into women’s bathrooms if they claim to be trans.

The concern was that men who aren’t trans would lie, saying they are transgender so they can gain access to the women’s bathroom.

​Even worse, the opponents of the bill seemed to assume that if men were in women’s bathrooms, trans or not, they’d be there to cause trouble and that women naturally wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

An important note to mention is that plenty of men already use women’s bathrooms occasionally. Women use men’s rooms too. If one is closed for cleaning or is occupied, one gender could use the other bathroom. While it might be awkward for a few seconds, it isn’t damaging or emotionally scarring to either party.

​It’s already a crime in Houston to use public restrooms for “causing a disturbance.” That wouldn’t change. Neither would the amount of people who are called out on this crime. Most businesses don’t have the funds to add a position of bathroom security guard or if they do, they’d prefer not to.

​It would be much easier for businesses to have one gender neutral bathroom instead of worrying about gender-checking their customers or to forego the hassle of public restrooms altogether.

​Gender-neutral bathrooms might be the way to go in Houston. It seems that no one targets businesses with just one restroom because it’s not really about sharing bathrooms.

There are stalls that separate people from others because it’s already uncomfortable to be there with someone of the same gender. There are single person restrooms segregated by gender. Genuine people don’t care if the person who was there before them was anything like them. Honestly, they just want it to be clean.

​As mentioned before, Charlotte rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance last year and it failed by a close vote. The catch with the city’s policy though, was that it failed after the ordinance was changed to exempt public restrooms from the bill. It was never about bathrooms at all in the case of Charlotte. It was about nothing but flat-out discrimination.

​It seems like the LGBT(Q) movement has been divided up: first into LGB and then into T. While the first three have made plenty of progress lately, the fourth group is still working toward basic rights like fearlessly filling out job applications and using public restrooms.

Carlyle Addy is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].