Bathroom Bill aka Texas S.B. 6

I typically don’t talk politics here because I find most online political conversation to be unproductive. However, I’m making an exception because Texas state representatives are considering a bill that I find unnecessary, unproductive and unhealthy. Even worse, I cannot find any reason for this bill except for fear mongering. If you believe S.B. 6 is necessary, I hope you’ll listen to my concerns before reacting.

Dear Texas Legislators,

I’d like to understand your goal in regulating bathrooms. It appears Texas Lt Governor Patrick’s proposal will create bathroom chaos, unenforceable regulation and possible health problems for some of the population, none of which seem productive.

Slide1Regulation is a balance of costs & benefits, with benefits outweighing costs. Conservatives prefer less regulation and Texas is known for its conservatism. So why impose additional regulation on bathrooms? What data indicates current regulations (e.g., public indecency/Penal Code Chapter 43, sexual offenses/Penal Code Chapter 21) are not effective in minimizing inappropriate bathroom behavior or privacy infringements?

 

Lt Gov Patrick proposes to ensure no one invades someone else’s privacy in the restroom by drawing a line according to biology . I don’t believe that every man is a pervert trying to spy on someone using the facilities, but it appears Patrick does. Why else would he feel a need to further regulate bathrooms in this way? What data says this is a big issue, that men masquerading as women are spying through the cracks in the stall doors to watch us? Let’s look at the data and see if his proposal is the most productive way to secure our privacy. (I have yet to find any published data supporting his position.)

For now, let’s assume that TX follows NC in regulating our most private moments and insists that people use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. Let’s discuss enforceability. Imagine you’re a woman (e.g., me) in the women’s room and a person dressed as a man walks in, and that they are a woman-at-birth and therefore must use the women’s room. What are you going to do? Ask him for his birth certificate, the document that Lt Gov Patrick proposes as the basis for this regulation? Who will tell him he can’t use the bathroom if he can’t prove that he’s a girl-at-birth? Who will force him to use the men’s room even though our state leadership banned him from doing so? Who will enforce this regulation and how will they do so? An unenforceable rule is worse than no rule since it will create chaos.

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Let’s assume ‘he’ was born a ‘she’ and can prove it by producing a birth certificate. Now, we’ve created a ruckus, all to make sure that a ‘real’ woman is in the right bathroom. Is your average citizen going to quietly challenge this apparent man or are they going to get a security guard? Will most bystanders think, “oh, bathroom bill enforcement” or will they think “Pervert!!??” If a born-female-identifies-as-male follows Patrick’s rule, aren’t we creating more regulation than is reasonable? Are we accomplishing anything besides making a transgendered person afraid to use a bathroom (which is unhealthy). I would prefer to not have this kind of chaos when I am trying to simply use the facilities and go on my way. I’m perfectly fine having a transgendered person use the obvious facility (mens room if they identify male and women’s room if they identify female) as long as they behave themselves, as we expect everyone to do.

Or is that the point? Does Lt Gov Patrick think that transgendered people are simply perverts? Or that the only folks who call themselves transgendered are really just perverts masquerading as the other sex so they can get into the women’s bathroom? Is there data that supports this? I’m 54 and have never had any experience in a public restroom that leads me to believe bathroom voyeurism is a widespread problem, nor do I know of anyone who has had this happen to them. But maybe I’m just lucky, so please, where is the data?

Lt Governor Patrick stated “This issue is so clear and simple that it defies belief. Do they really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife?” How often does a father/husband/son go into the women’s room with their daughter/wife/mother, aside from the obvious toddler attending with his mommy? Do we really think that your average male will just wander into the women’s room if we don’t make a law against it? If we think this, where is the data? If there is no data, why is a conservative like Patrick trying to regulate our bathrooms? What point is there in promoting fear that is based on how someone looks?

image_thumb95According to Media Matters, “The “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly debunked — by experts and government officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and school administrators in 23 school districts and four universities. Despite overwhelming evidence, many media outlets continue to uncritically repeat the debunked myth peddled by anti-LGBT groups.” Further, “Texas Experts Debunk The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Experts — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for sexual assault victims — from three Texas cities with LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, citing empirical evidence and experience working with sexual assault victims. [Media Matters, 10/15/15]”

Without data, it appears Lt Gov Patrick is promoting a particular social agenda but not accomplishing anything productive. I have no doubt there are sexual predators out there, but don’t our current laws already address that issue? Don’t we already have laws that outlaw predatory behavior regardless of sexual orientation or appearance? This proposal is NOT a priority, not when we have bigger problems, like making sure we’re all employed, that our roads are safe, that we have affordable healthcare, that we have competitive education systems, that we can defend our nation…. you get my point. I’m hopeful our state leaders are more focused on big issues, not bathrooms.We Don't care sign

 

Listen to Understand

GM and welcome to the working week!

How was your weekend? We’ve wrapped up the dog days of summer, kids are going back to school, we’ve rounded the midpoint of August and are starting to fantasize about another 3 day weekend. While we enjoy the last of the long summer days, please keep the folks in Louisiana in your thoughts. Xo

Listen to understand

I’m so proud of our community, of our principles, our integrity and our willingness to invest in each other. One way we invest in each other is taking the time to listen, without interrupting, without judging and with patience and respect. Even when we don’t agree, we can listen, can’t we? Can’t we? I’ll be the first to admit it’s sometimes a challenge but that’s what practice is for. 😉

How about you? How well do you listen? Do you listen better to those who agree with you? How about we all practice listening better in conversations where we don’t agree?

Here’s some advice on listening and leadership from Forbes:

  • Be empathetic and don’t judge.
  • Challenge your assumptions.
  • Don’t interrupt, be respectful.
  • Engage and care.

These principles remind me of friendship and parenting, classic cases of where we’re invested in the relationship. Imagine what we could do if we invested in relationships with those whom we disagree.

Time to get Monday tasks done – have a great week!

Caryn

You Say Toe-may-toe, I Say Toe-mah-toe

Do you ever feel like you’re talking to someone but not really communicating? We have to remember that we all see things differently. I hope you find the following true story a funny reminder of this.

San Antonio is very bicultural, with a seemingly even split between native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. Other cities, like Miami, are probably the same. A few years back, my Assistant was a woman named Yolanda, who was raised in a Spanish speaking home. Her family emphasized English and she easily thinks in both languages. Myself, I was raised with English and therefore read and think in it. I have a decent ear for language, though, and can speak Spanish with a good accent. There are a fair number of words that sound very different in the two languages and there are also names that are common in the Hispanic community that are not so common in the Anglo community, like Hector or Jesus.

Like much of Texas, San Antonio is a very religious town, with references to our Lord, Jesus Christ, being fairly common in conversations. (Can you guess where this is going?)

When Yoli and I worked together, there was a mobile jewelry salesman from Mexico City, Jesus (Hay-soos for those of you who aren’t familiar with Spanish pronunciation). Yoli & I knew Jesus, the salesman, pretty well; we almost always talked about him and rarely wrote his name down. In my head, he was (and still is) Hay-soos. For me, Jesus (Gee-zus) is a different person entirely. When Jesus the jewelry salesman would visit, Yoli and I made it a point to go see all his sparkly doodads. He would usually call one of his regulars and then she would pass the word through email and Yoli would tell me.

One day, he called Yoli to tell her he’d be in the lobby with some new trinkets. She then emailed me: “Jesus is coming today.” Not thinking of jewelry, I assumed she was telling me Jesus Christ was coming.

I don’t know about you but I wasn’t expecting His return to Earth to be announced via email and in such a calm fashion.. I would think that Yoli would at least have burst into my office with some sense of drama! She’s kind of excitable that way.

Trying to be cool about the whole thing, I calmly replied, (still in email) “Really, how do you know?” I also offered to pray with her, thinking a quick prayer couldn’t hurt. She then told me that He’d called her. I immediately realized that Yoli must have been the most special of humans to have gotten a call from our Lord, Himself. I was just about awestruck. We went back and forth in email a couple more times before she came giggling into my office to tell me that I was crazy and asking if I wanted to go see our friend from Mexico City and his sparklies…..

The moral of the story is that two people can be saying the exact same thing but in two different languages, carrying two different meanings. Also, we listen and see differently. Remember the next time you’re in an argument to listen for the difference.