A Charlotte, NC story involving a local restaurant owner who posted a public note about why she has a multi-stall unisex bathroom in her establishment has garnered national attention for its seeming message of inclusiveness and tolerance:
The owner of a Plaza Midwood restaurant said her business's unisex bathroom is getting national media attention after she posted a sign explaining the restroom is available for people in the LGBT community.
Juli Ghazi, the owner of Pure Pizza, posted the sign, which also says the bathroom is available for single fathers with daughters, single mothers with sons and adults with aging parents who may have disabilities.
Here's an image of the note, posted by a customer and friend of Ghazi:
In an interview with NBC affiliate WCNC - referenced in a piece Independent Journal Review reporter Kayla Brandon wrote Tuesday - Ghazi said she's getting mostly positive feedback over the policy, which has been in place for five months.
This is a classic case of someone with good intentions trying to go the extra mile to make everyone feel welcomed and comfortable, but in reality complicating matters. Why? What is only hinted at in some media reports and not mentioned at all in others is that there is no men's restroom at Pure Pizza.
Apparently the men's restroom was converted to a unisex facility.
From a Yelp review in early December:
It reads in part:
When I went to use the restroom I noticed only two choices: unisex and women. I looked around and just couldn't find a men's. Now if I missed it please let me know and I'll edit this post; however, it didn't seem there was one. I can understand attempting to be inclusive of all people as the sign in the unisex restroom said, but I can't get down with being inclusive by excluding other people. If you insist on having a women's room and a unisex room please offer men the same courtesy.
The owner's response was to let the male customer know that instead of adding a restroom specifically for men, she was considering making BOTH restrooms unisex in the future - just to, you know, avoid confusion:
I appreciate your remarks about the unisex bathroom. We originally thought to make both restrooms unisex, but decided to designate just one. We have a lot of friends who are single moms with sons, single dads with daughters, adults with disabled or aged parents of the opposite sex, and friends who are transgendered.
So far, we haven't had any complaints since the stalls have heavy wooden doors and lock from the inside. Maybe now we will make all restrooms unisex as not to have any confusion.
This part of the pizza restaurant's post in response to the attention they've received really stuck out to me:
We hope that by taking this stand, we can set forth a precedent for future business owners to consider others' feelings and personal identities in order to make everyone feel welcome and included.
Except by not having a men's restroom for men who feel uncomfortable using a “gender neutral” restroom, the attempts at making everyone feel “welcomed” fall short a bit. Not only that, but if the owner also goes through with making the ladies restroom unisex in the near future, then women who love their pizza but who feel uncomfortable using restrooms where men will be present are just out of luck. So much for safe spaces. You'll just have to learn to “hold it.” Or go dine somewhere else.
Adding a unisex restroom option, in theory, is actually the perfect compromise for both people who have legitimate needs for “mixed gender” bathrooms and for people who “identify” as the opposite sex. But in practice it does nothing to alleviate the concerns of some in the community if you fail to also offer gender-specific bathroom facilities that would put them more at ease. You are, essentially, making one group feel comfortable and welcomed at the expense of another.
Anyone with such concerns is usually automatically branded a hateful bigot without further thought or care as to their opinions, but their worries are genuine and shouldn't be so easily dismissed.
There have been numerous reported instances (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) of men impersonating women in order to get access to women and children to hurt them. It doesn't matter if it's something that hasn't happened “a lot” - it only needs to happen a handful of times to know that when you open the door in the name of “inclusion” on an issue like this, sick people with ill intentions will take advantage of it. Our history is jammed full of sadistic criminals who deliberately pretended they were someone they were not just to be able to take advantage of and hurt innocent people.
Isn't it interesting how some ideas that are promoted as “inclusive' and ”tolerant of all" usually end up being some of the most exclusionary practices one has ever come across? In the case of Pure Pizza, I doubt that was the intent, but for better or worse, that - unfortunately - is emerging as the outcome, especially if they expand their policy to make the women's restroom unisex as well.