Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’


‘Accommodate’ can have a compulsory aspect — it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.


Emily Bazelon‘s “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating‘” is an article that articulates and brings to question the basis of the Public Restroom System we have in place in America. Bazelon informs us that “Transgender people, most prominently, are asking society to rethink all of this, from signs to design to who gets to enter where.” In the 19th century states began to require sex-segregated restrooms on a discriminatory premise, much like racial segregation, yet we still implicate this irrational division as a social norm in today’s society. Bazelon goes on to say similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act, there should be a small alteration to the original design to accommodate for all individuals. “For people with disabilities, reasonable accommodation is about a bar next to the toilet and a button that opens the door. For transgender kids, it’s showering near your peers in your own stall, and then maybe getting dressed behind a privacy curtain.” Bazelon emphasizes.

To strengthen her argument Bazelon mentions an incident involving a  “transgender high-school student that identifies as a female who was undergoing hormone therapy and asked to change in the girls’ locker room.” located in the suburban Illinois. The school district refused the teen her rights stating that, “Privacy concerns required sending her to a separate room down the hall.” This resulted in a civil rights complaint from the teen’s family soon ending with an intervention from the United State Department of Education asking the district to “give her the right to shower and change in the same locker room with her female peers.” Bazelon suggested a privacy curtain could be added in order to serve as a compromise for both the transgender teen and those of which have concerns about privacy rights.

To recap, Emily Bazelon published this article in hopes that it would bring awareness to the general public about the urgent need of reform in the architecture of public restrooms in America due to our accelerated evolving nation. Americans have to stop being so afraid of change/the unknown and welcome the evolution. The United States of America was created with the intent to promote freedom and equality for all; while our founding fathers had a good intent, they could not have possibly predicted what life would be like in 2016. With that being said, in spirit of Bazelon’s words it’s time we begin to make these necessary changes to accommodate all Americans and not just the masses.

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