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On Campus: The Weigh-In

Faculty experts shed light on trending topics

Gender neutral icons

THE NEWS:

In the debate over gender-neutral bathrooms, both sides emphasize concerns over safety. Who is right? Or are both positions valid?

THE EXPERT:

Margaret Sallee, associate professor of higher education

“Laws regulating access to gender-appropriate bathrooms are inherently unjust, as they discriminate based upon identity. An individual should have the right to use whatever bathroom they* feel most comfortable using. Some argue that allowing biological men into a women’s bathroom puts women in danger. This defense has two flaws. First, it suggests that biological sex matches gender identity. Second, it suggests that women need to be protected from predatory men. Both assumptions are inherently false. A more radical notion is to make all bathrooms gender-neutral. Gender is a social construction that has been used to organize society, privileging one group over another. Perhaps ceasing to regulate bathroom use based on gender will lead to the destruction of other gendered divisions, such as workplace promotion patterns and divisions of caregiving in the home, thus leading to a society that actively supports all people in leading happy and productive lives.

* My use of ‘they’ is intentional and aligned with the movement to use ‘they’ as the gender-neutral third person.”