A restroom war in North Carolina

So North Carolinians are arguing over restrooms again—what might happen if a certain segment of the population used the wrong one. Didn’t we go through this back in the sixties, when white folks fought to keep separate facilities for “colored” and “white?” Now the North Carolina House is distraught over the city of Charlotte’s ordinance expanding anti-discrimination laws for public accommodations. It’s the transgendered population our representatives would have us fear, how their choosing which bathroom they want to use “poses an imminent threat to public safety, ” (Speaker Tim Moore). The issue is worth the $42,000-a-day expense of meeting in special session, he says.

(I’ll avoid references to these elected officials who so boldly favor local control—except, it seems, when a city does something they disapprove of. )

A special session to make Charlotte’s ordinance illegal would supposedly contribute to the safety and well being of women and children. While I certainly appreciate Mr. Moore’s and his colleagues’ concern, let me remind him there are other issues more threatening to our safety. Granted none of them as scintillating as imagined drag queens such as what we see in movies pulling down their pants in front of innocent children and women.

Strengthening gun laws would do more to protect women and children, but would draw far less support. In 2015 there were 53 domestic violence homicides in our state (http://www.nccadv.org/homicides-20150. While mass shootings make headlines, suicides and accidental shootings in homes where there are guns take far more lives.

And what if our representatives announced a commitment to protecting women and children from air and water pollution? Yawns. Which has allowed elected officials to gut the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) http://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2015/04/23/bill-that-would-gut-state-environmental-policy-passes-nc-house-committee.

Keep in mind these are the same people who try to control women’s reproductive rights, who reject climate science, who undermine the quality of our state’s educational system, who voted to allow magistrates to refuse to perform gay marriages if their religious beliefs opposed it.

With national primary races for President so entertaining, few are paying attention to state politics. Which could explain why Tim Moore and his cohorts are talking about transgendered individuals using public restrooms. His efforts though should remind us that statewide elections are as important, if not more important than national ones. Candidates who deserve our support need financial backing and a team of workers. Otherwise restrooms will be the big campaign issue.


Nancy Werking Poling is author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman and Out of the Pumpkin Shell.




6 thoughts on “A restroom war in North Carolina

  1. VERY GOOD! Hope the paper picks it up. For that matter, I hope every paper in the state picks it up….. Scottie Cannon

  2. I agree that the cry for “local control” consistently is used when it suits the viewpoint of the elected official, and becomes silenced when it isn’t convenient for them. If they had paid me even one time they could have saved a lot of money by following my suggestion: Provide individual bathrooms…as many as they need. I’m sure other people have suggestions too…for free!

  3. I agree with you 100 percent. Yet I have a concern. If we were to allow transgendered men (psychologically women) to use the women’s restroom, how would we keep men who are not transgendered at all from using the women’s restroom in order to sexually assault women? Would mothers feel it was safe to let their girls visit the restroom unattended?

    • I never let my children use the bathroom unattended, and I would truly like to see any collected data on restroom offenses. I am honestly more worried about my daughter one day walking across her college campus safely, where sexual assaults are on an astounding increase. A gender free bathroom would have allowed my husband the ability to take our daughter safely to potty when she was little, or change her diaper. It was always a struggle for him to find a ‘family’ bathroom or a men’s room with a diaper changing table. Our roles have changed so much of the past two generations, it seems archaic to expect the same systems to still fit our needs.

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