Humanity should triumph in debate over restrooms
In 1968, while visiting the Louvre in Paris, two things were obvious: there was an awe-inspiring plethora of the world’s great art, and an equally disturbing dearth of bathroom facilities. It became obvious instantly that the dozens of women waiting outside their bathroom were becoming frantic. Something happened that day I will never forget. Humanity triumphed.
The men and boys outside their facility urged the women to use the lightly occupied and quickly moving line for the men’s bathroom. Once inside, those who could use the urinal did so, and the others waited their turn outside the stalls. Mind you, many did not speak the same language. Some had children in tow. There were rich, poor, the elderly, a rainbow of races, hippies, even a couple of nuns. You know what happened? Absolutely nothing. No untoward remarks, no embarrassment and not a hint of any kind of gender harassment.
That day reminded me that of all the democratizing elements in this world, one of the clearest, most unifying, is our common albeit banal need to void our bodies. It was done without legislation, supervision or policing. It was simply the human thing to do.
I don’t know how many transgender people were there and I don’t care. No one in a bathroom or at a urinal wants to do anything but the obvious. I have observed that curiosity in these venues is not the norm; do your business and leave. Anyone with another agenda is the type of prurient who will not be stopped by the gender sign in front of the water closet.
In a country that prizes itself on tolerance, I am shocked that we would discriminate and exclude our brothers and sisters from a place we all need. Take a lesson from Paris, 50 years ago, please.
Stanley R. Pietras