The Louisville Cardinal

Behind closed doors: transgender bill endangers students

LGBT Center "Power to the people" chalk

By Jahnai Brown —

Behind closed stalls, for lack of better words, we find ourselves in a very personal and intimate situation.

Restroom stalls hide us away from the view of others, allowing us a place to comfortably relieve our bodies. Yes, the controversial and highlighted topic that seemingly slipped through the cracks has risen again. In Kentucky, only three days into 2017, the Transgender Bathroom Bill (House Bill 106) was introduced. It requires that public schools and state universities, along with local and state governments, to designate bathrooms they control “to only be used by persons based on their biological sex.” This means that transgender persons will be required to use the restrooms in regard to their biological sex and not preferred gender.

The bill’s effects to transgender and non-binary people could be devastating. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 59 percent of transgender people avoid using public restrooms because they were afraid of having issues.

Thankfully, the University of Louisville prides itself on being accepting and welcoming to all.

“We’ve made a strong commitment here at U of L to inclusion and respect. In fact, our diversity vision statement affirms that U of L ‘strives to foster and sustain an environment of inclusiveness that empowers us all to achieve our highest potential, without fear of prejudice or bias,'” Assistant Provost for Diversity and LGBT Executive Center Director Brian Buford said.

The business that goes on behind closed stalls is your own. Bills like this can reach outside transgender people. Anyone who doesn’t follow societal rules about how the genders are supposed to look can be targeted. The worries of using public restrooms may vary from place to place, but because of this bill, there may be more worries to come for everyone.

“We’ve greatly increased the number of single-stall, gender inclusive restrooms over the years and have a long-standing agreement with our administration that all new building construction would include these options and that they would also be family-friendly and fully accessible. The renovation of the Student Activities Center is a great example of how we are making progress in this area. The old SAC had no gender-inclusive options, but the new facility will have them on every floor,” Buford said.

Hopefully other places and schools follow suit, allowing everyone to feel safe and included. “We still have work to do, of course. But I’m so proud to be part of a university sticking to its statement.

“We still have work to do, of course. But I’m so proud to be part of a truly inclusive Cardinal community that cares about every member,” Buford said.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal