Defending Bathrooms

North Carolina’s House Bill Two, Part One, formally called the Public Facilities Privacy And Security Act, addresses the use of single-sex, multiple occupancy bathrooms and changing rooms, making it illegal for anyone associated with North Carolina’s public schools to use the bathroom or changing room of the opposite sex, with a few exceptions. According to lawmakers, this bill is intended to protect women and children in vulnerable, public situations where they might face the threat of sexual assault by men masquerading as transgender women.  However, House Bill Two establishes a legal basis on which to deny transgender people from using the bathroom of their preferred gender and undermines efforts across the Unites States to promote understanding and acceptance of transgender people.

Many fear that antidiscrimination laws intended to protect transgender rights will encourage sexually predatory men to pose as transgender women and target women and children in public school restrooms.  The evidence suggests that this is not the case. In an assessment of some of the largest school districts in 12 states with gender identity protection laws (anti discrimination laws), including California, Illinois, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington, encompassing over 600,000 children, not one district had a report of sexual advances, harassment or rape related to transgender students or employees.

One of the exceptions to House Bill Two is an employee, authorized volunteer, parent or authorized care-giver who is assisting a student.  Over 6.5 million young people, from ages 3-21 “are receiving special education services… approximately 13 % of all public school enrollment.”  These special education services include children with mental and physical disabilities.   Data shows these children are three to four and a half times more likely to experience sexual abuse than their counterparts without disabilities.  According to a 2014 study, The Sexual Maltreatment of Students with Disabilities in American School, 30 percent of the cases of sexual abuse found a member of the teaching staff was the abuser.

House Bill Two suggests that men who dress as transgender women are sexual predators. This instills undeserved fear and mistrust of the transgender community, who’s intention is to live as their preferred gender, not to sneak into bathrooms for sexual pleasure. If their intention is to deter and curb sexual abuse in public schools, North Carolina’ s lawmakers may want to focus on a abuse that actually exists- school staff abusing students with disabilities.

This article was written by Erin Benton, a writer for dusk magazine. 

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