Wk 3, Discussion 2: The Bathroom Bill
This week, we continue our look at some important contemporary social problems in order to get us in the habit of thinking from an interdisciplinary social science perspective.
It may be that 2016 will be remembered as the “year of the restroom.” In March, 2016, the state of North Carolina created a firestorm by passing the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2) which required people to use public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with their biological sex. While this is not an issue for most people, the question of which bathroom to use is anything but clear for individuals who identify themselves as transgender.
Proponents of the legislation claimed that HB2 was just “common sense,” while opponents claimed that the bill violated the civil rights of the LGBTQ community; indeed, the very existence of the bill was seen by some as directly targeting the transgender community. The response to the bill generated a great deal of discussion among social scientists as well as social activism from the public.
Then in May, 2016 under the directive of the Office of the President, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a set of guidelines to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students, that “to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.”
HB2 could be viewed as North Carolina’s problem, yet the federal directive on transgender guidelines in public schools brings this same issue to every community across the nation. Not only that, in the last few years, other states have enacted similar bills, as you read in this week’s resources.
Here is the text of North Carolina HB2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v4.pdf
Here is the text of the Guidelines issued by the Departments of Justice and Education:
On March 30, 2017, possibly owing to pressure from the public and influential organizations like the NCAA, North Carolina repealed HB2, but even this was not without controversy. However, the compromise struck to replace HB2 was just as controversial, and HB2 was not the last “bathroom bill” to be put forward.
Review this week’s Learning Resources, then respond to the following questions:
1) What are some of the important issues that need to be considered when discussing “Bathroom Bills”? The Guidelines for Transgender Equality in public schools? Compare and contrast these two “policies.” Generate a list of items.
2) How might social scientists from different disciplines talk about these issues? For example, what questions would a psychologist ask compared to an anthropologist? What issues would be the focus of a sociologist? How might a gerontologist frame this problem? What other social scientists might be interested in this issue?
3) What are some potential controversies inherent in this issue? Think about why this social problem might be difficult to solve. Are there gaps in our knowledge? Lack of resources? Opposing political views regarding funding? Think broadly and from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to respond to this question.
4) Why was the repeal of HB2 controversial? Why was the compromise also controversial?
5) Where does the solution lie? Are there policies that need to be changed or enacted to resolve the issue? Are there programs or services that might help to find a solution? What agencies or industries are best equipped to help?
Please use in-text APA citations within your post as well as full APA references at the end