To accommodate the Boston school’s “transgendered” student population, Emerson has changed the formerly gender-specific signs on 21 of its restrooms and in one of its two dorms, opening them to both men and women.
Officials at Emerson College believe they are bringing "more equal opportunities" to their students at the outset of the new school year by making all their bathrooms gender-neutral.
To accommodate the Boston school’s "transgendered" student population, Emerson has changed the formerly gender-specific signs on 21 of its restrooms and in one of its two dorms, opening them to both men and women. Emerson is not the first to make the bizarre shift; Tufts University and the University of Vermont both moved to unisex restrooms over the past four years.
David Haden, associate dean of housing and resident life at Emerson, told the Boston Globe that the adoption of a gender-neutral approach to restrooms enables students to further express themselves.
"I am all in favor of supporting students and their expressions," said Haden. "Having gender-neutral bathrooms doesn't take anything away from anyone; it just gives students more options."
School officials at Emerson caved in to pressure two student groups students, the Emerson Alliance for Gays, Lesbians and Everyone, and the Student Government Association, both of which demanded that restrooms be made "gender-blind" so that transgendered students would not be made to feel uncomfortable by "being made to choose a gender at the bathroom door."
The Globe quotes one student as saying she felt "sorry for students who did not know where to go." Rik Haber, a 2007 Emerson graduate who identifies himself neither as male nor female, but as existing in the ultra bizarre category of "gender-queer," said he had felt unsafe in Emerson’s facilities because he had "seen people subjected to gender-policing" and "odd looks."
David Kotter, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) said the move by Emerson provides a sad and disturbing picture of the depths to which humans plummet when they depart from God’s design for men and women.
"I am saddened but not shocked to see Emerson University join Tufts University. University of Vermont and a few dozen other schools in adding gender-neutral bathrooms to campus buildings and dormitories," Kotter said.
"I am saddened, because the solution to feeling uncomfortable about ‘having to choose a gender at the bathroom door’ is not a change in the signs but a return to the biblical truth about God’s design of men and women.
"This is not shocking, but what can be expected when we become unmoored from God’s design. Accordingly, at these schools student groups continue to pursue more concrete changes, including gender-neutral housing, locker rooms and bathrooms."
Kotter says the development at Emerson and other schools regarding restrooms serves as one palpable example of the utterly critical nature of the gender debate.
"People should not believe that the focus of CBMW is restricted to remote and esoteric disagreements between scholars," Kotter said.
"There is a direct path between a departure from biblical truth to confusion over gender and finally to concrete examples such as gender-neutral bathrooms. The work of CBMW affects the every day life of every believer."
Photo of a gender-neutral bathroom sign at Emerson College by Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe
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