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By Rose Hoban

People with profound physical and developmental disabilities often need help while going to the bathroom.

And for those people who have caregivers of the opposite gender, the legislative language being bandied about ahead of this week’s special session to overturn Charlotte’s ordinance forbidding discrimination for transgendered people looking to use the bathroom may have lots of unintended consequences.

Photo credit: Lee Brimelow/ flickr creative commons

“When you go to hire someone as a caregiver, you’re looking for the most qualified person to assist you and that may not be a person who shares your gender,” said Julia Adams-Scheurich, head of governmental affairs for The Arc of North Carolina.

She said it’s all too common that someone, say, a mother with a son in a wheelchair, needs to enter the bathroom of the opposite sex.

“You may have an individual with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy or spina bifida or some other profound disability who does not share the same sex with their husband, caregiver, mother, father,” Adams-Scheurich said. “We’re afraid that legislation created by the General Assembly would have the unintended consequence of possibly prohibiting that assistance.”

This concern was echoed by Corye Dunn, who represents Disability Rights North Carolina at the legislature. She noted that having a disability often makes using a traditional public restroom less practical.

“Many of the practices that make bathrooms more accessible for gender non-conforming people also make them more accessible for people with disabilities,” she said.

Dunn said the Charlotte ordinance would probably result in the creation of more “single stall” restrooms in the city.

“And that’s a good thing for our clients,” she said. “It’s a good thing for a lot more people than you think, people with  colostomies and urostomies, who have complicated medical issues that make a restroom stall without a sink in it difficult to manage.”

Dunn said she hadn’t seen any draft language, but she’s holding her breath.

“Anyone who has young kids knows that a family restroom isn’t always an option,” said Mike Meno, from the ACLU of North Carolina, who pointed out there was some legislative language floated last year that would have created similar problems, but that version of the bill didn’t make it into law.

Both Adams-Scheurich and Dunn said the current trend of “family restrooms” has been a huge boon for people with disabilities. But many locations don’t have the space for such bathrooms, or their current physical configurations don’t support having an extra bathroom.

Adams-Scheurich noted that until the 2007-08 session, Raleigh’s legislative complex did not have a disability-accessible bathroom, and there’s still no family-designated restroom that is accessible in either the Legislative Building or the Legislative Office Building.

So, depending on how legislators craft this week’s bill, folks with disabilities might also have to learn how to hold it.

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6 replies on “Disability Advocates Worry About Transgender Bathroom Bill”

  1. The proposed draft is even worse than outlined.

    Once you skip the stuff about bathrooms, you learn that this would overturn and prohibit local municipalities from making it illegal for businesses to discriminate against LBGT individuals in employment and whether or not they provide services.

    An intention that is stupid enough on its own, and well not worth the $42,000 that this special session is costing. To make this worse, the legislation is written so broadly, that it would ban local municipalities from instituting non-discrimination ordinances for anyone, period including the disabled. Furthermore, the disabled are conspicuously absent from the list of protected classes.

    In layman’s terms, if some restaurant wanted to refuse service to kids with autism or physical disability. they could conceivably be allowed to do that without the city stopping them. It would also make enacting stronger employment discrimination laws such as banning the “do you have a driver’s license?” question, which unless driving is an essential part of the job, exists solely to filter out the disabled.

  2. Thanks to the GA for protecting our children and the people. How any government would allow such a ordinance or law is beyond believe.

    To me, the progressive left pushed the City Council to pass the ordinance in a hope to further the radical believe in complete gender equality with the hope of making current Republicans in Control in Raleigh look bad. The PPP poll recently done did not state anything about the real truth about the ordinance nor the person behind it. The progressive left will do anything to win and will do so at the cost of harming people.

  3. Rose Hoban, it clearly states in the bill that it will not affect care takers or legal guardians or from medical assistance. so i ask you, Why didn’t you read the bill ? it was in the first or second page. I clearly read it with no problem and i dropped out of highschool in the 9th grade so why is it that you couldn’t do simple research? I hope you realize you Rose Hoban are part of the problem. You Rose Hoban are a part of the reason people are so divided. when you play a role in the modern press (sad to say but it has become this way) you must have integrity and supply all the facts. but all you care about is site traffic or impressions so it really is not your fault completely it’s just how you get paid. just know that you might get more if not the same amount of impressions if you write facts. when it’s hard to find facts in the media you would be doing a great service by being a supplier of unbiased facts in a time where that is hard to find.

    1. Indeed, the story needs an update. When the original story was written, there was no bill to look at and advocates were expressing worry about this issue. I “didn’t read the bill” because there was no bill to read until a few minutes before the first committee hearing. There was draft language floating around, but on the day before, there was nothing, which had disability advocates pretty concerned.

      When the bill was finally done being drafted and amended, lawmakers added a provision to insure there wasn’t an issue for people with disabilities. They also amended language so that if you have a child under seven years old of the opposite gender, you can take them into the bathroom with you.

      When I asked Julia Adams-Scheurich, who represents people with developmental disabilities for The Arc of North Carolina, here’s what she had to say: “The exemption list on the bathroom section does include issues around people with disabilities needing assistance but again this section is going to cause confusion because of the amendment on kids age 7 or under.”

      She went on to say, “H2 provided very limited protections for people with disabilties who need caregivers in order to access the restroom. I say limited because this is gonna be the single most confusing bill for our community.”

      “If you are a mom or dad and you kid is over 7 (nondisabled) you will no longer be able to take them into the restroom with you if their birth gender isn’t the same as the sign on the door.”

      “For a few minutes it looked like the NCGA wanted to limit disability access in a completely different way. Many of us including ACLU-NC had to explain that because they didn’t cross reference GS 168-A (North Carolina’s State Accessibility Law-think ADA) in the legislation it appeared that, for a brief time, they were removing all nondiscrimination protections for people with disabilities in our state.”

      Overall, Adams-Scheurich said, “It will have an impact on the disability community specifically around the employment law changes and the right to challenge termination based on disability in a state court.”

  4. THE GAY/ LESBIAN AGENDA FREQUENTLY POSES AS A TRANSGENDERED AGENDA (and… the Gay/ Lesbian Agenda, and the Transgendered Agenda, not to be confused with the “Gay/ Lesbian Transexual Agenda”, and the “Gay/ Lesbian Transexual Gender Re-assignment Surgery Agenda”!… which are other matters, altogether!)!

    ALL GAYS/ LESBIANS WERE NOT SIMPLY “BORN THAT WAY”!… AND!… JUST AS ALL TRANSEXUALS WERE NOT “BORN THAT WAY”!

    Such thinking, would suggest that there’s no such thing as “FREE WILL”/ “CHOICE” when it comes to sexual orientation (the TRULY TRANSGENDERED, being the exception to this!)! And again!… not to be confused with those who are merely transexual!… or!… transexuals who have “CHOSEN” “Gender Re-assignment Surgery”!… and!… DESPITE EVIDENCE OF ANY PROVEN BIOLOGICAL/ GENETIC PREDISPOSITION TO BEING “BORN THAT WAY”, AND POSSESSING A TRULY “TRANSGENDERED BIO-SEXUAL ORIENTATION”!

    THE RATIONALE FOR “TRANSGENDERED GENDER RE-ASSIGNMENT SURGERY” IS NOT SYNONYMOUS!… AND IS NOT TO BE MADE SYNONYMOUS!… WITH “GAY/ LESBIAN TRANSEXUAL GENDER RE-ASSIGNMENT SURGERY”!

    For!… it’s one thing for a six year old boy to want to cut off his genitals due to an overwhelming biological (hormonal) predisposition to femininity!… but!… it’s quite another issue, to do so, based on a series of “familially-based, peer-based, or socially-based behavioral influences (and!… on many occasions!… due to incidents of ‘incest-based, peer-based, or stranger-based SEXUAL ABUSE’!– whether as children, and/ or, as adults!)”!

    So… the question, is:… are you “coming out” to reveal your acceptance of your gay/ lesbian “CHOICE” of orientation (i.e., a “CHOICE” based on whatever “NURTURE-BASED/ non-biological” circumstances may have led you to your resolve!)!… or!… are you anxious to end the REAL MENTAL/ EMOTIONAL PAIN of hiding a TRULY “BIOLOGICALLY-BASED CONDITION” THAT YOU HAVE HAD– HAVE!– NO CONTROL OVER (AND WHICH MAY HAVE LED YOU– IS LEADING YOU!– TO THE POINT OF SELF-HARM!… OR!– WORSE!… SUICIDE!)?

    If it’s the former… fine!… THAT’S YOUR “CHOICE”!… BUT (and… if it was your “FREE CHOICE”!), DON’T THEN, HAVE YOURSELF– AND/ OR US!– BELIEVE, THAT YOUR DECISION TO COME FORWARD WAS BASED ON SOME BIOLOGICAL/ GENETIC PRECONDITION THAT “PREEMPTED” YOUR “TRUE DECISIONMAKING (I.E., THAT YOU WERE ‘BORN THAT WAY’!… OR HAD NO ‘FREE CHOICE’ IN THE MATTER!)”! AND!… IF YOUR “WOULD-BE CHOICE” WAS “PREEMPTED” BY WAY OF SOMEONE ELSE’S MANIPULATION OF YOUR “FREE WILL (E.G., BY WAY OF AN ABUSER!)”!… AND, YOU’VE SUFFERED– AND/ OR ARE SUFFERING!– MENTAL/ EMOTIONAL PAIN AS A RESULT OF SOMEONE ELSE’S PAST– AND/ OR PRESENT!– MANIPULATION OF YOUR OTHERWISE “FREE WILL”!… THAT MANIPULATION DOES NOT EQUATE TO BEING “BORN THAT WAY”! AND SO!… AND AS SUCH!… YOU MUST BEGIN TO SORT OUT– HONESTLY!– WHAT HAS HAPPENED (AND/ OR IS HAPPENING!) TO YOU!… AND TO SEEK TO EITHER ACCEPT A TRULY “TRANSGENDERED STATE”!… OR!… SEEK TO ESTABLISH WHETHER YOUR “WILL” IN YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, WAS “PREEMPTED”– AND/ OR IS BEING “PREEMPTED”!– BY ANOTHER, OR OTHERS!… OR NOT!

    As for “BATHROOM LAWS”!… a “THIRD BATHROOM”!– AND DESPITE THE COSTS, AND DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS!– would be a wiser solution, than pitting hetero males and females (adults, or children!) against the transgendered, and/ or gays, or lesbians! And to offset the costs for “The Third Bathroom (an excellent title for a movie… starring whoever! And wherein!… a gay, and lesbian meet– and fall in love!)”, I’d suggest, Crowdfunding campaigns!… and/ or!… the proceeds, from a movie!

    Please!… no emails!

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