Lately, some unfortunate incident had raised an old, perplexing question that usually has most of us stumped:
Which lavatory should members of the LGBTQ community use?
Personally, I don’t mind sharing rest rooms with individuals who identify as female, whatever biological make-up they may have, but let’s not overlook the fact that others still do. (side note: To be quite honest, I have more than once thought I had stepped into the wrong rest room because I come upon male-looking individuals inside the Female toilet. After the initial taken-aback-edness wears off, though, it’s back to my business as usual.)
In the work setting, I have come to realize the following during the course of my HR life:
- Both male and female can feel uncomfortable having different gender types share the lavatory with them. Females do not have a monopoly over feeling uncomfortable with this. We cannot question why they do, as we cannot undermine people’s beliefs or feelings, no matter how trivial or unreasonable we think they are.
- Employers need to educate employees on gender sensitivity. Not only is it the the most human way to go, but also because inclusiveness and respect is the best way to boost engagement and productivity.
- All-gender bathrooms may not be the answer to the problem, as others would debate, but having one (or more) as an OPTION would be good. We should not force persons to use it, but at least, there would be an alternative for those who would like to use one.
- Most employers do not have policies regarding lavatory use, and easily overlook this to be a pressing issue in this day and age. This is not because it is less important, but only because the issue had not been as prevalent before than it is now. Times have drastically changed from, say, a mere 5 years ago. Approach your HR to suggest that one be written up, if your company does not have one. I am sure that they’ll appreciate the suggestion.
- Being accepting of LGBTQs is rooted in a person’s whole being, and cannot be forced just because other people would like this to happen. It is rooted in culture, upbringing, education, community. Being tolerant and inclusive starts at home, during the formative years. Parents should be more open-minded to welcoming individuals who are not like them, and pass this on to their children.
- Respect people’s beliefs and feelings. It is easy to feel strongly about your own, to the point of forgetting that the next person has their own rights and beliefs, as well. Practicing your rights at the expense of other people is not the way to go. And this goes both ways, straight to queer and queer to straight.
Quite frankly, this has been a question brought up to me to decide upon quite a number of times throughout the years, and as HR, the simplest solution we had come up with is for people to use the assigned lavatory based on the “equipment” one has. I know this is not the best answer, and one may say it is not even the “correct” one, but in the past, we were restricted both by knowledge and resource, thus the straightforward solution to this difficult situation.
Nevertheless, times have changed, and the only thing that can hold us back from giving more humane and upright solutions to this controversial question would be our own close-mindedness and disrespect.