In gender-neutral restroom debate, PCHS students were ahead of their time
When it comes to gender issues, it seems that Utah is still going through puberty. The state’s public institutions, in particular, are finding it hard to evolve with the times.
The latest growing pains are centered on a federal mandate that allows transgender students to use whichever public restroom matches their chosen identity.
That has been interpreted, by some, as a breach of privacy and several school districts around the state have expressed their horror. Even the governor has chimed in on the matter – vowing to go to war with the president over who gets to use the girls’ bathroom.
Our own kids know better. Over a year ago, Park City High School’s Gay Straight Alliance called on their school to establish a gender-neutral restroom. With support from the student council, their effort was successful. More importantly, in the year and a half since it was established, no one seems to have been adversely affected by this small gesture.
Gender barriers are crashing down around the nation and, as one of the last places where men and women are clearly segregated, public restrooms have become a symbolic battleground. But that needn’t be the case. When people – from anywhere on the gender spectrum– need a little extra privacy, they should be able to find it. Those who are recognize those nuances consider it a matter of civil rights.
As schools and other public facilities are remodeled and rebuilt, architects should, as a matter of course, include gender-neutral facilities. In the short term, schools certainly can find ways to make existing facilities more private. Family restrooms, for instance, now ubiquitous in airports, shopping malls and theaters, were an acknowledgement of changing times in which dads were taking a more active role in childcare. Where was the hue and cry then?
Our culture is changing for the better and the next generation is leading the way. Unfortunately a bunch of old fogies (the governor and the Eagle Forum, to name few) are standing in the way.
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Park City resident Tom Horton writes that we shouldn’t count on the Sundance Film Festival building its headquarters in the city’s planned arts and culture district.