Bob, bathrooms and bogus anger

Kate Bigam

Kent State practices tolerance and advocates privacy.

What terrible things, I know.

Just how terrible? Ask Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer, and he’ll tell you how disgusted he is by the school’s decision to convert faculty restrooms into gender-neutral facilities.

The restrooms, available in the Student Center, may soon be located in other buildings on campus, too. Although they came into play as part of a request from the Queer Liberation Front as a means to make transgender students more comfortable, university architect Tom Euclide said in an April Stater article that the facilities are also open to the rest of the public, anatomy and gender preference aside. They can even be used as family facilities for parents whose young children need assistance in taking care of their bladder woes.

But on the online version of Dyer’s May 17 column about gender-neutral bathrooms, more than 600 reader comments provide an array of opinions on the issue. Although Dyer admits the majority of students he polled weren’t offended by the new restrooms, plenty of his readers, most of whom are unaffiliated with the university, were outraged.

“There goes (our) tuition rates rocketing to new levels, all because someone can’t decide if they’re a man or a woman,” wrote Darrick, of Akron.

“There is something really wrong with the administration at Kent State,” declared The Fan, of Fort Worth, Texas.

TFC of Ravenna proclaimed, “Family bathrooms are one thing, but I do not want my kids in there with a bunch of mental cases … a.k.a. trannys.”

“Disgusting,” chimed in Spirit of Reagan from somewhere in California. “These people have serious problems. They need help – not restrooms.”

I’m not idealistic enough to assume that everyone shares my view that A) homosexuality is not a sin, B) homosexuality is not something you choose, and C) transsexual and transgender people are not mental cases, freaks of nature or any other sort of fearsome, loathsome half-breeds. I also admit that I’m not tolerant enough to accept others’ homophobic and bigoted remarks to the contrary.

But that’s not exactly what’s at issue here. The real topic is bathrooms.

That’s right: This is an issue of (and a column about) bathrooms.

At their worst, these gender-neutral restrooms provide us – all of us – with alternatives for those moments when we’ve had too many cups of coffee. The single-stall bathrooms provide privacy for you to do your thing without the “stage fright” a next-stall neighbor can induce. They allow you to reapply your eyeliner in solitude or corral your kids into a single stall for a family bathroom break. They offer a four-walled option for handicapped students who may not enjoy other handicapped stalls’ curtain closures.

And, yes, the gender-neutral restrooms provide a gender-safe haven for those among us born with a set of anatomy that doesn’t match the gender they live as – whether that’s something you accept or not.

No one in those stalls is bothering anyone, nor is the restrooms’ existence costing us any money, save the price of a new door sign. The users of the “new” Kent State bathrooms are just looking for a little privacy, whatever their reasoning.

So tell me – why do Bob Dyer and his readers give a damn where we pee?

Forum Editor Kate Bigam is a senior magazine major who doesn’t care where you do your business. Contact her [email protected].