Gender rights and social justice at Lawrence

Among the 9 million lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered adults, many have grown up with horrific stories of bullying or harassment by officials or simply not fitting in amongst their peers. Because of this, many who identify as LGBT hide their gender, fearing rejection by society or family.

According to the Williams Institute, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, often having left their homes due to familial rejection, physical or emotional abuse because of sexual orientation or gender identity. That parents allow this to happen to their children is atrocious. Identifying as LGBT in the United States is not a legal crime, but it seems to be thought of as a social one. The social structure of America needs to change.

This includes the Lawrence Campus. One particular issue that does not support the LGBT communitys at Lawrence is the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms. These bathrooms may be used by anyone for basic necessities without having to rely on gendered schemas. Across the nation, many people who identify as LGBT face opposition when simply trying to use a bathroom. Many have been arrested, beaten up or harassed when in the bathroom by complete strangers. The irrationality that people are unable to use the bathroom is completely absurd. In other parts of the world, like Europe, genderless bathrooms are non-issue and everywhere. Why can’t America and Lawrence do the same thing?

Something as simple as being unable to use the bathroom can  stay with a person for their entire life. By not having laws making gender-neutral bathrooms a necessity and accessible, the United States perpetuates the problem. Everyone should be for gender-neutral bathrooms as they help create a safe, diverse and healthy environment for everyone. The bathroom would make it easier for everyone to go as they please and for parents to take their children into the bathroom for safety reasons, as well.

Even though Lawrence has gender-neutral bathrooms, they have been placed in inconvenient locations for students. The gender-neutral bathrooms should be put in all buildings so that students aren’t forced to search out and locate the hidden gender-neutral bathrooms around campus. What’s the point of having the bathroom if no one is going to use it? The gender-neutral bathrooms should have the same visibility as any other bathroom.

I absolutely love the idea of making the campus more diverse and welcoming to all kinds of students, and increasing gender-neutral bathrooms on campus would be a great way for Lawrence University to attract more students. Right now, I applaud student groups like CODA that have helped to raise awareness of the issue to all students on campus. Lawrence can take one more step to helping its student body with one simple thing: implementing gender-neutral bathrooms.

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