The Horizon

We stand against the SGA senator’s bathroom proposal – you should, too.

Illustration+by+Shelby+Pennington
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We stand against the SGA senator’s bathroom proposal – you should, too.

Illustration by Shelby Pennington

Illustration by Shelby Pennington

Illustration by Shelby Pennington

Illustration by Shelby Pennington

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The bathroom legislation proposed by a member of the IUS Student Senate is at best thinly veiled bigotry and is at worst a poor attempt to disenfranchise some of our most marginalized students.

The Horizon believes that any action short of complete condemnation of this proposal would be an affront to the values of our university community.

IU Southeast makes clear in its diversity statement that we should value and respect persons of different gender identities, sexual orientations, and “other groups traditionally underrepresented at the university and in society.”

The statement continues:
“We grow and evolve as a university through seeing equality and representation as a goal and human right for everybody.”

In direct opposition of our university’s core values, this proposal seeks to make a targeted group of students at IU Southeast feel unwelcome and unsafe. It has no place at our university.

Potty talk

The all-gender restrooms are the only restrooms on campus lockable from the inside. And all but one of the all-gender restrooms are single-use. There is no interaction with other users of the restroom because there are no other users of the restroom.

So changing the designation of the restrooms from all-gender to single gender would make no functional difference. Doing so would serve only to tell non-binary students their identities are illegitimate and that who they are is a choice others can make for them.

This is abhorrent.

Functionally, there is no difference between the all-gender restrooms on campus and any other single-use family restroom. Anyone is welcome to use them. But instead of miring ourselves in debate over whether campus restrooms should be open to everyone, we want to instead ask a very simple question:

If not in any restroom on campus, where do you expect non-binary students to go?

At first, the obvious choice seems to be some of IU Southeast’s large and well-maintained hedges, or perhaps even some of the campus’ larger trees. Surely they would be substantial enough to conceal a student doing their business.

But that would be absurd.

Let students and faculty use the restroom they are most comfortable using and stop holding their identities hostage just to prove a point. Our university should focus instead on making all students feel welcome and safe, feelings many LGBT+ IU Southeast students have not felt this week.

A dangerous university

IU Southeast Spectrum, the university’s LGBT+ alliance, met Wednesday to discuss the SGA proposal. Two things were on their minds: the then-upcoming SGA vote that happened on Friday, April 12, and staying safe on campus.

I have heard in the past three or four days more sexual and gender slurs and, if I’m allowed to use the words, tranny, faggot, and dyke, than I have heard in my entire five years of being here”

— Nicholas Ball, psychology major and member of Spectrum

Spectrum member and senior psychology student Londyn Lanning said, “I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve never heard the number of slurs I have lately.”

The Spectrum members expressed concerns that the proposal’s language was leading other students at IU Southeast to believe using anti-LGBT+ slurs is now acceptable.

At Friday’s Student Government Association public forum, other students mentioned they have used a buddy system this week to walk to their cars for fear of violence.

“I have heard my friends unfortunately say they want to transfer off the campus,” Ball said. “And what hurts the most is that IUS has had a good reputation of being a relatively accepting campus before this.”

A majority of Spectrum members also expressed disappointment in the university’s relative silence on the issue.

“It would have been appreciated if IUS could have come out and said, ‘Hey, we still have to honor his freedom of speech. While we don’t condone these actions, we still have to respect his freedom of speech.’ If they had even come forward and said something like that… something of that nature would have been appreciated,” Lanning said. “It shows a lack of care for our community.”

Silence

The IU Southeast administration has been absent from all conversations about the proposal.

In their response to The Horizon’s request for comment, the administration said Friday before the SGA vote took place:

“The administration is aware of the recommendation being considered by the Student Government Association. The SGA has a governance process to deal with such recommendations. As a higher education institution, we will always value diversity and inclusion at all levels. We are proud that our students are able to respond to difficult conversations and issues with critical thinking and civil discourse.”

While we appreciate their support of the SGA’s process and their independence from student governance, the lack of a more forceful repudiation of the proposal speaks volumes, especially to those in our LGBT+ community.

What kind of administration looks upon students who are afraid of walking to their cars alone and chooses inaction? What kind of administration waits silently as the LGBT+ students on their campus become the targets of so much hate speech they consider transferring to another university?

Inaction in response to bigotry is tacit approval, and The Horizon believes our administration must stand publicly united against all forms of discrimination. We demand more.

Moving forward

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff spoke against the proposal at the SGA meeting where it was defeated on Friday, April 12. The Horizon commends them for banding together and doing what was right. But IU Southeast cannot afford to look back on the Friday vote as a total victory. Voting down the proposal was the first step in mending a broken and divided campus.

There is no room for speech like this at our university. Calling the campus’ LGBT+ community “delusional” is unacceptable. False claims that belittle the LGBT+ community are wrong and should be publicly renounced.

A restroom is a private place in which anyone should feel comfortable and safe. No one should be made to walk around our campus in groups because they fear violence, and no one should have to go to class in fear of being the target of hate speech.

And at the end of the day, a toilet does not care who uses it. Neither should we.

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