The perception of gender as a strict binary is no longer supported in the contemporary world. However, the same cannot be said about infrastructure: there are many facilities that reinforce the perception of gender as a binary and punish those who refuse to comply. Bathrooms serve as a good example of such a facility. The article titled “‘Kicked out’: LGBTQ youths’ bathroom experiences and preferences” by Porta et all explores this problem, putting emphasis on the need to make more bathrooms gender-neutral.
The above-mentioned group of the scholars questions 66 LGBTQ students in the United States and Canada and 25 of them mentioned first or second-hand problematic experiences with public bathrooms. The authors conducted qualitative interviews during 2014-2015 that included six open-end questions. The results show that LGBTQ students expressed a demand for gender-neutral bathroom, have experienced significant challenges in the public bathrooms, and would like advocacy for gender-neutral bathrooms to be more explicit and effective.
This article was written by the scholars some of which are related to the University of Minnesota and some – University of British Columbia. Minnesota is a state that has experienced an intense debate regarding the passage of the so-called “bathroom bill”. British Columbia is a part of Canada where the rights of transgender people are also widely discussed. That is why it is not a coincidence that people from those locations will be interested in the topic in question.
The article was written in 2016 and was accepted and published in 2017. The timing is rather important in this regard because there have been some controversial bills passed in the US regarding the use of public bathrooms. One of the most notable ones is Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act of North Carolina. That is why it is clear that the time of the publication coincides with the intensification of the debate regarding the topic.
With all this in mind, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the group of scholars in question wrote the article as their response to the events that they were witnessing. It is possible that their goal was to show that LGBTQ youth are concerned with this particular aspect of the social life and would like the authorities to take actions in the completely different direction.
One should point out that in order to support their position, the scholars performed a scientific research that complies with the guidelines. Thus, the researchers found a group of students that had first- or second-hand experience of the issues under investigation. As a result, the scholars supported their ideas with empirical evidence in order to show that the views of the people affected directly should be taken into the account first of all.
Nevertheless, it is essential to take into consideration the limitations of the article in question. To begin with, the sample that was collected by the researchers is not quite representative. While the sub-sample was just 25, the sample was 66 and it is still extremely small if compared to the rest of the LGBTQ population in the three countries. Secondly, the inclusion criterion was that the respondents had to mention problems in the bathroom during their first interview; however, it is possible that those people simply forgot to mention this topic.
Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the article above, it is clear that the group of scholars is a strong supporter of gender-neutral bathrooms. They show that LGBTQ people experience serious issues with this, seemingly insignificant part of public lives. That is why it is for the benefit of all the people involved to make bathrooms gender-neutral.
Porta, C. M., Gower, A. L., Mehus, C. J., Yu, X., Saewyc, E. M., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2017). “Kicked out”: LGBTQ youths’ bathroom experiences and preferences. Journal of Adolescence, 56, 107-112.