May 18, 2016

There's a Girl in the Boy's Bathroom? So????

There's a Boy in the Girls BathroomMiss Nelson Is Missing, transgender bathrooms  and me.

I taught small children for many years. Every child between the age of 3 and 9 in our community knew my name. I was a substitute teacher.

In those 13 years I substituted, I probably learned more than the students. For the most part, I looked forward to each day in the classroom and took great satisfaction in filling another person's shoes. See, I needed to do everything like the teacher or it upset the students. I didn't want to do that.

I have two stories today:

It was very simple back in those days when I was in the classroom. Students used the shared classroom bathroom or in the halls the boys used the boys, girls used the girls and teachers used the teachers. But it didn't exactly work that way.

The book that should have been written was There's a Teacher in the Kid's Bathroom. I had a 2nd grade teacher tell me that she spent a lot of time counseling children with her panty hose around her knees...they kept bursting in on her in the classroom bathroom. And life went on. Of course the students eventually learned to knock but she never learned to lock the door.  In fact, the locks were probably removed so student wouldn't lock themselves in there. She used it because there was a real need and she had a room full of students to supervise with no help.

That is where the transgender bathroom issue kind of a puzzle to me. See, I think that stalls need to be put in the boys restroom too. In fact, if there were stalls and all bathrooms were boys and girls both, no one would think a thing about it. We do share bathrooms at home, in the classroom and at our friends homes. It just makes sense to me.

There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom
In foreign countries the bathrooms are not gender specific and the women and men wash their faces at the same sinks. What a concept for making the space work for everyone.

Then in public there is the issue of lines at the women's and none at the men's. More times than I can count the women have simply stood guard and as they took turns using the boys side. But, when you think about it, why would we need separate bathrooms when there is only one stall in each? I don't know.

Miss Nelson Is Missing
The second thing I learned was that substitute teachers are not generally loved. Well, I will say that the students that are in trouble all the time love a substitute teacher but the well liked students don't. In the book Miss Nelson Is Missing the students didn't like their real teacher until a really mean substitute was hired. Boy did the student change their tune.

The book ties in with the There's a Boy... book in that not being wanted or understood eats away at a person's heart. Many time I felt like the transgender kid that doesn't know quite where they fit. It is not a good feeling, trust me.

Miss Nelson is Missing was very popular in a school I subbed in and everyone apologized to me when they confessed of their love for it. I still remember when the school voted it the most popular book of the year with a bow to me as a sub they actually did like.

There is a Boy In the Girls Bathroom was also a favorite at that same time. Both of these books were about people that were "outsiders" in their world.

And so is the transgender issue. Hopefully, the problem will be thought through and transgender youths will not have to face the dilemma they are faced with now. It is very sad. Young people are confused, embarrassed and in some cases a little afraid.

It is something so outside our cultural heritage experience that everyone is a little uncertain about what to do. Are we ready to face it that there is a lot more to being a "boy" and a "girl" than meets the eye? We have been pushed over the edge and the time has come to open the parachute of compassion and inclusion.

In the end maybe we are all more alike than different...what about that?And as a former Miss Nelson, I know it is very important to fit in somewhere and that includes the bathroom.

What do you think?


Note: If you haven't read the Oprah book selection Middlesex, you really should. It was a Pulitzer Prize winner. I'm just saying.


Barbara said...

I do agree! There are a million solutions to this problem and it shouldn't have been viewed as a problem in the beginning. I'm on the same topic today but, you know me, I get riled up and let fly. You are much nicer than me, Barbara!

Barbara Torris said...

It does make you mad doesn't it. I will read your blog.

Ellen Fassbender said...

I agree. I was a teacher for over 20 years and who was in who's bathroom was never an issue and yes, I have been the victim of door knocking, listening to questions and papers thru the bathroom door at school. Plus, I have a family of all men plus me with one bathroom at home. Many times, I have been in the shower only to have someone pound on the door screaming they needed the bathroom right that minute. Putting stalls in both boys and girls bathrooms seems an ideal solution even though for a 5, 6 or 7 year old, they still have the curiosity to peek.

Terra Hangen said...

This ruling also covers taking showers after gym class and sharing locker rooms which is perhaps more complicated than sharing bath rooms. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Man chokes 8 yr old girl in woman's Chicago bathroom:

Transgender man abused women & children in Seattle bathroom:

Man beats 9 yr old girl in Jacksonville bathroom:

Man attacks 6 yr old girl in Clearwater Florida bathroom:


Barbara Torris said...

Many school at the 6,5,7 year old age monitor bathrooms anyway. There should be consequences for "peeking" even though I think a lot of that goes on on the playground anyway. There is a learning curve but that is what learning to be "civilized" is all about isn't it? Children will adjust. It is the adults that will have the problems I think.

Now I have a headache. We will all be glad when this is resolved won't we. Not that our governing grown-uphumans could ever learn to cooperate enough to get anything done.

Thank you for your input Ellen.


Barbara Torris said...

Well, I have thought from the beginning that this was not a well thought through issue. Don't you think just excusing students from showering might be a choice.
They have showers at home. If they stink, so be it. I always hated to shower in the gym anyway.

Barbara Torris said...

How many acts are there that are committed by straight men or women? If you are afraid for your child take them to the bathroom in public. It has never, never been safe in those places.

I would never let my grandchild or child in the bathroom alone. Would you?

I am leaving this comment here because I think that those who read it will see that name calling never solves a problem.

Oh and I do hope that the law comes down really hard on people that do such a thing. Mental health issues need to be addressed sooner than anything.

Deb Shucka said...

What a thoughtful reflection on this hot-button issue. Cool that you were so liked as a sub. Not an easy thing to accomplish.

Barbara Torris said...

Thank you Deb. It was not perfect for me everyday but the good outweighed the bad many times over. As with any job, it is what you make of it.

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