What I'm about to say is prefaced with the following: I'm not trying to start a hateful-filled debate of any kind. I want to continue the conversation by presenting both sides with multiple perspectives and questions.
March 25 marked a historic day in the state of North Carolina via The Charlotte Observer:
"...North Carolina's legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender. The law...goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.
Known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.
(It) sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.
The background is much needed for this discussion, but let's start at the root cause for our reactions to this. Racism, sexism, and some sense of xenophobia exists in our country. Whether we like it or not, there will always be human beings that will spew some sort of hate, prejudice, or disdain for a person based on the color of their skin, their gender identity, or their religious creed. It's not something we can completely eradicate from the fabric of our American culture.
I'm a man who was raised with strong morals and beliefs that are derived from a Catholic background. My parents helped me understand what it means to be a great human being. That includes not discriminating anyone no matter how different they are from me. I have friends from many different walks of life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Think about it, we have so many different varieties of human beings walking this earth. It's truly amazing.
Now, there are a number of noted dignitaries and celebrities who have spoken out against the discrimination. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato & Nick Jonas heavily oppose the new legislation and are boycotting setting foot back into the state. Conversely, artists like Gregg Allman, Cyndi Lauper, and Jimmy Buffett are strongly against the new bill. However, they refuse to cancel their shows. Can you really argue against either side? Musicians are still businessmen and women in a sense. Some are just more adamant than others.
Another interesting wrinkle in this involves the National Basketball Association's take on Charlotte set to host the 2017 All-Star Game. Commissioner Adam Silver says Charlotte could potentially lose hosting duties if the law is not changed. Straightforward, concise and to the point. Also, PayPal was considering expansion to North Carolina and creating 400 jobs there, but due to HB2, the company withdrew its plans.
The biggest controversy has involved the retail giant Target. They announced they would create "inclusive" restrooms in a stand to support the LGBT community and oppose discrimination. Now, a petition has garnered a great amount of signatures to boycott Target.
Over 800,000 people have signed the American Family Association's pledge to boycott Target over the company's policies regarding the use of bathrooms by transgender people. Target announced its "inclusive" bathroom policy permits anyone to use the bathroom or dressing room that corresponds to their gender identity. The AFA believes that this policy puts women at risk for sexual assault and is urging those opposed to the policy to boycott the retailer.
One of the biggest arguments against the AFA is a post being shared throughout social media stating the following:
Women are in exponentially higher danger of being sexually assaulted by a boyfriend, spouse, co-worker, or classmate; and children by a relative or family friend, than by a stranger in a bathroom - and it's not even close.
I personally don't have any data to back that up, but my gut tells me that's fairly true. However, I'm not so sure about the idea of boycotting fear. Fear is unique. It can build us up and tear us down all in one fell swoop. There's no such thing as boycotting fear. Stand with Target or don't shop there.
I would say 95% of the restrooms I've seen throughout my lifetime have either been "unisex" bathrooms or separate men & women restrooms. The former usually can be seen in smaller establishments such as coffee shops and mom-and-pop stores. The latter usually is for big restaurants and retail establishments. Sometimes there are places that have both men & women bathrooms AND a unisex one. This usually is more appropriate for those with some sort of handicap, or need a little more privacy than a giant room with stalls and urinals.
I understand that the transgender population or those who have some form of mixed gender identity make up a microscopic chunk of Americans. We're talking less than 3 or 4 percent. That being said, most of them, if not all, are not looking to make a statement with this bathroom law. All they want is some sense of safety when going to use the bathroom. That's not much to ask.
There will be a number of idiots, and that's putting it mildly, that will take advantage of Target's "inclusive" bathroom policy. They will do it to prove a point and not necessarily for their own personal interest. You might, for example, have a guy dress up as a woman, claim that he identifies as a woman, when he clearly looks like a man, and use the women's restroom.
The American Family Association raises the question of sexual predators gaining more access to their potential victims. This is concerning because children are often at-risk of being kidnapped if their parents aren't watching them carefully, especially in a big store like Target.
Is that frightening? Absolutely. My question is: despite people taking advantage of these new laws/rules, who's going to monitor the bathroom? Ask yourself: how many places have you gone where there's been some sort of security guard protecting the bathrooms in some way, shape or form? I'm fairly certain you can't think of one.
Now, let's take a look at a place that is of great concern to all of us: schools and children. There have been numerous reports over the last few months involving teenagers choosing whichever restroom they feel best fits their gender/sexual identity. Many parents have great concerns over the safety of their kids. This looks to be the case more for boys who say they identify as girls and end up using the girls' bathrooms. It's horrifying to even think about this, but what matters is that this gotten out of control.
When are schools going to offer more productive ideas to protect our children? I'm not saying that we have to be overbearing or completely shelter them from the evils of the world. When are administrators, teachers, or schools as a whole going to offer some sense of security in a learning environment? Isn't that the whole point of being away from the home? It's to learn about some sense of the real world.
I'm not saying we'll be able to live in a perfect world where everyone is safe from everything. When it comes to success and failure in life, you cannot have one without the other. Kids are going to experience a number of failures and feel pressure to act certain ways around their friends. Do we have a way to solve this? No, because it's not a solvable problem. In fact, it's not a problem. It's a way of life.
As it pertains to the religious beliefs of those who are against those who are of the LGBT community, I can understand and respect their opinions. They have values on which they were raised like the rest of us. We're all different and that's a good thing. Do I agree with what the Good Book states regarding men lying with men, women lying with women, or mixing and matching? Not necessarily, but I get why people feel that way.
The last thing we want is to turn into a country like North Korea where everyone is supposed to feel the same way about every little thing. It's Orwellian.
Let's look at this from another angle: psychology. I'm not a psych graduate and I'm not a professional psychologist. One may say that a child's brain isn't fully developed. If they can't figure out their sexual/gender identity, then that fault lies with the parents. One may argue that we have no idea what it means to be a parent of a transgender child or a child with mixed identities. I'm not hear to tell you how to go about that process. It's not my place.
Love is a wonderful drug, and when properly used, can have an amazing effect on yourself, your family and everyone else. It's not the be-all and end-all for hate. However, we are living in a world of guessing games. We think we know exactly who a person is and what they're thinking and how they operate on a daily basis. That couldn't be further from the truth. When are we going to stop judging others by their covers? It's an absolute embarrassment.
I don't have a family, and I'm not going to say what I would do because I haven't walked in those shoes yet. When I do have a family, I will love my child regardless how they choose to live his/her life. That's called unconditional love and it's a lost value. The shaping of a child's life comes from the home and the mother and father. Granted, not every home will have one or the other, but it's all about the values instilled upon a child by his/her/its parents to become the best person they can be.
We can never really understand what goes on inside a child's brain. This is true for a number of reasons. No child/teenager makes a "choice" to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. It's all a part of evolution and making choices in life. Do we all make mistakes and revert back to what we know and are comfortable with? Absolutely. That's why they call it a comfort zone. The one thing that we can take away from associating ourselves with the transgender population is learning more about them individually. Let's learn some compassion and understand why they are who they are without jumping to conclusions.
Ultimately, as I stated previously in this post, those who are choosing to boycott Target and sign petitions to never shop there is a losing battle for them. Please do me a huge favor and speak with your wallet. You don't have the power to tell a company to stop doing something any more than the power they have to tell you what you need for your home. It's simply their best recommendation. Your biggest voice is with your own money. Go shop somewhere else.
Also, don't ever assume that you know who someone really is. You're not living their life. You're not raising their family. If you want to be treated like a human being and not like some "freak," then ask yourself how you'd like to be treated.
It's not rocket science. Let's stop feeling outraged over something that has never really been a problem in the first place. Sorry to get political in the home stretch, but it's nauseating to see how the smallest problems in the world, even the most microscopic of issues, are blown way out of proportion. This occurs well before we have all the facts in front of us and shove away all the hypotheses and conspiracy theories.
If we are all made perfect in God's eyes, no matter who we are, then don't we owe each other the compassion, respect and love we deserve until we're proven otherwise and vice versa?