Wednesday, March 23, 2016

HB2: A letter to my representatives on potty breaks and discrimination...

I emailed this to my HofR and Senate representatives. It was rushed, much like the emergency meeting called at the last minute to vote on HB2, so there are probably several grammatical and technical errors, and I apologize. This letter skims the surface of a terrible piece of legislation that is much more in depth than what I've discussed here, but these parts are important and need to be said. I'm generally "proud to be from the south", but it's becoming harder and harder to find that pride when my sweet, gentle south where neighbors are friendly and kind continues to be overshadowed by a nasty, evil south where hatred and bias are not only acceptable but encouraged by law. With that being said, here's my email...


I was born and raised in Alamance County, and am currently a teacher at South Graham Elementary. I am emailing you to ask that you oppose the sudden bill proposed at this emergency meeting you're having today. And if you choose to support this discriminatory bill, I am writing to ask you who will fund either the additional bathroom my school will require to be built in my classroom or the updates needed to the bathrooms two halls down from me. I will explain this in detail in a moment.

At first glance, HB2 is a disgusting bill because it legislates legal discrimination against my neighbors and friends. Personally, I have never felt threatened by someone in a restroom based on their anatomical parts, and to be honest, I really don't pay much attention to the anatomy of those in the bathroom with me, as I am usually too focused on taking care of my own business quickly before something unfortunate occurs. I do, however, know people who have felt threatened in a restroom before because they WERE threatened. I have LGBT friends who have been discriminated against their entire lives, who have been threatened and assaulted verbally and physically for either being true to who they feel they are, or for "pretending" to be something they aren't. This HB2 proposal seems to say "that's okay" to those who are doing the threatening. If you can't see why that is wrong, I can't see voting for you in the future.

However, this bill goes deeper than the blatant discrimination. As I previously stated, I am a teacher. A public pre-kindergarten teacher, to be specific. I'm sure you know the laws regarding NCPK licensing and sanitation, as well as the current state of our schools and our education budget, so none of the following should come as any surprise to you...

I and another teacher share a large classroom, split into two small rooms by a wall of cabinets and a shared, multi-stall bathroom. All of our prekinder students use that bathroom throughout the day. If HB2 passes, that bathroom would legally need to become a single-gender bathroom. Anytime a student who is not that specified gender needed to use the bathroom or had an accident, they would need to be escorted down two hallways to the next nearest bathroom. Because of NCPK adult/child ratios, this would mean that up to six students would need to be walked down those two hallways to the next nearest bathrooms anytime one student needed to go or had an accident. (And yes, it's as messy as you might think... and yes, that mess would trail us down those hallways to the bathrooms). Also, the class I share my current bathroom with is a self-contained autism classroom, meaning all of their students have diagnoses and several of their students are in diapers. So every single time one of their students needed to have their diaper changed, they would need to be escorted to the nearest same-gender bathroom, as well. On top of all of this, the nearest bathrooms are not "pre-k certified" which would mean they would need to be inspected and updated to NCPK licensing and sanitation standards. I'm sure these bathroom updates are not in the budget considering all of the budget cuts being made to NC education lately, so I am wondering where that money would come from. Keep in mind, this is just one elementary school in the entire county. I'm sure reviews would need to be made to see how many other elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools who educate students with special needs that include toileting, in the state need bathroom updates to comply with the mandates in HB2.

If I sound angry, it's because I am. My anger is not directed at you in particular, but at this bill which seems to cause a lot of hassle for a ridiculous reason. It should be no shock to anyone that teachers in NC already have enough on our plates. "Walking students to the bathroom" seems like something small until you look a little further into it, and realize you would be adding a LOT more to my plate. And if you still don't realize that, I sincerely invite you to come spend a day with me and my wonderful students. You will see that, when taught compassion and love from an early age, it's much easier and more fulfilling to be concerned with the important things in life (such as treating others with respect) than it is to be concerned about whether someone has a penis or a vagina when they pee next to you. I hope this email does not come to you too late*, as I just learned about this bill a couple hours ago. 

Thank you so much for your time in reading this. And I truly mean it - come visit my classroom. We will welcome you with open arms, and you'll be welcome to use our bathroom if you get the urge to "go". 

Have a lovely evening."

*As it turns out, I was too late to reach my House rep. Maybe the Senate will listen. Wake up, North Carolina. 

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