Public Restrooms Just Became a Hot Button Topic

June 1, 2016 09:00 AM

By Mary and Laura Kizior

Transgender bathrooms just became a topic you may have to discuss with your children.

Target’s [recent] announcement . . . about its new restroom and fitting room policy has many parents worried about how to protect their children in public. While this is not about judging people who are legitimately confused about their sexual identity, parents do have reason to be concerned and will need to find a way to discuss these concerns with their children.

This is an issue that will likely become more prevalent as time goes on. Target may be the first to change its policies, but it won’t be the last. Policies like this could endanger children and adults, as people (regardless of their sexual identity or preference) intent upon doing harm will now have one less roadblock to act on their perversions. You can take your business elsewhere (and let Target and other stores know why you have decided to do so) but remember that your highest priority is to protect your children.

As a parent, you must have conversations with your children to teach them to be aware of their surroundings. Deciding how much to share is up to you as the primary educator of your children. Unfortunately, as parents we are repeatedly forced to discuss issues that can be uncomfortable. But it’s always better to retain control over how your children learn about these topics than to leave it to chance—or to the Internet.

When speaking with young children, alert them to safety issues, but do not overwhelm them. If you are not boycotting these businesses, you may say something like: “We’re going shopping, but we’re not going to use the bathroom there, so make sure you go before we leave.” The older your children are, the more you can explain without frightening them. Target’s bathroom policy should not be a political issue. It’s a matter of privacy and safety.

Here are a few points you can use when talking to your children about this problem to help keep them safe:

1. Safety first
When talking to young children, you might explain: “Be aware of the people around you. This is always a good rule, not just for bathroom or dressing room situations. Don’t go anywhere by yourself and always make sure that a responsible adult (like Mom or Dad) knows where you are.” In addition, you could say, “If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, leave immediately and tell a trusted adult. Don’t stop to wash your hands.”

2. Be aware
If talking to a preteen, say something like this: “One of the stores that we usually shop in has decided that men can go into the women’s bathroom and women can go into the men’s bathroom. This is not a good thing because it can lead to very bad or even dangerous situations. The reason we have separate bathrooms and changing areas for men and women is because men and women have different needs and concerns. Because of this, you cannot go into the bathroom alone. This has nothing to do with whether or not I trust you to take care of yourself, but we live in a world where we have to be extra cautious in some situations.”

3. Modesty is the best policy
When discussing this with teens, you may want to try this approach: “Men and women have different needs when it comes to public facilities, but everyone deserves privacy and protection in public. To fit their needs, men and women are not meant to share the same bathroom or changing facilities. Sadly, in our society, there are people who are confused about their natural identity as men and women. Some of these individuals believe that the only way they will be accepted by society is to start dressing and acting like the opposite gender. Even though we should always treat other people with respect, we should never give up our personal privacy because ‘everyone else is doing it’ or because you are afraid of offending someone.”

4. Our world is confused
Remind your older teens that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, created as male and female in the image and likeness of God. Some people are confused about whether they are a man or a woman. We need to treat them with compassion, but we don’t need to give up our right to personal privacy and safety.

Remember that these points are only guidelines for helping you keep your children safe. As our society becomes more entrenched in the culture of death, it becomes even more important for us to have these kinds of conversations with our children to help them understand what is right and good and how to speak the truth. We shouldn’t let issues like this overrun our lives, but at the same time, our children deserve to be told how they can stay safe, using age-appropriate details.

If your teenaged child feels ruffled or disturbed by this bathroom and fitting room policy, encourage him to write a letter explaining to the store why he feels uncomfortable. Not only will this help your teen think through his feelings, but it is a great teaching moment and a way to grow in responsible citizenship. Your teen doesn’t have to put up with situations that make him feel uncomfortable.

American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our email newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.

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