Story by Taylor Inman, Staff writer
Murray State has had gender-neutral bathrooms on campus since summer 2014, but recent legislation in other states has once again sparked the debate concerning transgender people and the bathrooms they prefer to use.
The bills, which restrict transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity, have been passed in North Carolina and are up for approval in Texas. The common thought among some politicians, like former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, is that there isn’t a need for gender-neutral bathrooms, but that it presents a danger.
“It doesn’t make any sense at all to allow an adult grown man, a stranger, to be alone in a bathroom with little girls,” Cruz said.
Jo Bennett, president of the Murray State Alliance, said these opinions are forms of fearmongering.
“I think it’s outrageous. Women and girls don’t need any more protection than men and boys do,” Bennett said. “The bathroom bills don’t do anything to protect boys from men.”
Murray State has gender-neutral bathrooms on the first floor of the Curris Center nearest the Student Government Association office, on the first floor of the Business Building nearest the elevator and on the second floor of Wells Hall nearest the Office of LGBT Programming.
But there are people who think there is no need for gender-neutral bathrooms and carry strong opinions on the debate. Jacob Whitehall, senior, from Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, doesn’t agree with the idea.
“I personally don’t feel comfortable with it. I’m a Christian, and I feel like they should be separated for a reason,” Whitehall said.
Bennett still considers the topic to be of great importance and is looking for Murray State to do even more.
“They are creating an inclusive environment,” Bennett said. “But there could be more gender-neutral restrooms and more policies against discrimination.”
Bennett said there needs to be policies in place to protect transgender people on campus.
“They need to enact a bathroom policy that’s inclusive,” Bennett said. “But also help set guidelines that will investigate issues or problems that might arise.”
The debate is old news to some, like Matthew Menke, junior from Evansville, Indiana, who believes it needs to be retired.
“It’s been going on for years; it’s not just been going on for the past five or ten years, it’s been going on ever since there’s been people,” Menke said. “It’s happened, and we just haven’t cared about to notice it. Everyone is just trying to make it big and blow it up.”