All-Gender Restrooms Send a Powerful Message

THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’--You've probably seen one of the many gender-neutral bathroom signs that have popped up over the past couple of years. On the face of it, the message they convey is simple: Anyone can use this facility. 

But in fact, they say a lot more than that.

"Gender-inclusive bathrooms serve a practical function of providing a safe public restroom for transgender individuals," write Rutgers University psychologists Kimberly Chaney and Diana Sanchez. But they also signal "a broader ideology of equality," including a positive, non-discriminatory environment for women and racial minorities.

To put it simply: People assume that if an organization is sensitive and caring enough to accommodate members of the transgender community, it's probably fair to everyone.

In the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers demonstrate this dynamic in a series of studies. The first featured 170 undergraduates who took a survey "ostensibly examining how people evaluate financial companies."  

The presentation included digital mock-ups of such a firm's office building. Near the front desk, there was a bathroom sign that was either labeled "all-gender restroom" (with a non-binary gender image) or simply "restroom" (with a binary gender image).

After viewing it, the students rated the company for how fairly it treats its female employees, such as the likelihood it offers paid maternity leave

"Participants perceived the gender-inclusive bathroom company as more female-friendly," the researchers report. "Women reported less anticipated gender stigma, and greater procedural fairness for women."

Another study, featuring 133 undergraduates, used the same structure, but measured perceived racial bias. It found "a gender-inclusive bathroom signaled greater identity safety for racial minorities," due to a perceived high rate of fairness and low rate of stigma.

"Importantly, gender-inclusive bathrooms did not appear to threaten people," the researchers add, "as participants reported greater or equal comfort compared to traditional bathrooms."

These findings provide evidence that, on a basic level, people understand "the overlapping nature of essentialist ideologies," the researchers write. Discomfort with transgender individuals signals a rigid attitude regarding gender, and the belief that women and men have intrinsic differences beyond reproductive biology.

At least among college students, there seems to be an assumption that people with that mindset are more likely to devalue women in the workplace, and hold prejudices against members of other races or ethnicities. Thus gender-neutral bathrooms signal equal treatment for all.

Not bad for a little blue sign.

(Tom Jacobs is a staff writer with Pacific Standard magazine … where this piece was first posted.)







GELFAND’S WORLD--The publication of The Big Ones by Dr. Lucy Jones provides a chance for Californians to consider where we are in terms of preparedness against a really big and violent act of nature such as a flood or an earthquake.

BCK FILE--Honoring fathers this past Sunday, it was difficult not to reflect on the status of thousands of children who have been torn from their parents as a display of the strong-armed immigration policy that has been a centerpiece of the Trump campaign and now, administration. 

FIRST PERSON-Might there be a glimmer of hope for the environment and our species’ long-term survival on this planet, now that MacDonald’s has finally acknowledged a plastic-in-the-environment crisis of epic proportions?

420 FILE--Cannabis consumers soon should be able to shop at licensed stores in California without worrying about whether products on the shelves are laced with pesticides and other contaminants often found in black-market weed.

LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles has very ambitious plans for the Civic Center, the area surrounding City Hall. According to the City’s Information Statement, the City is “considering major improvements to its Civic Center, with estimates ranging from $730 million to $760 million for the first of multiple phases of its Civic Center Master Development Plan.” 

DC DISPATCH--General Michael C. Hayden begins his book, The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, surveying the flattened streets of Sarajevo.

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VOICES-Three separate juries have now confirmed what we in the VyBe chapter of the Los Angeles Tenants Union have long known: Lisa Ehrlich has allowed her properties to deteriorate to slum-like conditions.

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WORKING TOGETHER WORKS-“I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” ~ Stephanie Sparkle 

ANIMAL WATCH-As the result of very persistent and persuasive phone calls from a prominent activist that an LA Animal Services' Commissioner was claiming his electronic communications were "hacked," a California Public Records Act request (CPRA) was sent to General Manager Brenda Barnette and certain members of the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission. 

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ALL ABOUT RACE--Trump critics argued on Monday that the debate over President Donald Trump's policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border should be centered on the driving force behind the practice—the racism and xenophobia of top Trump officials and those who constitute his political base. (Photo above right: ‘proud racist’ Stephen Miller.) 

EDUCATION POLITICS--Since the 1990s, California’s leaders have promised to make preschool universal for every child.

CORRUPTION WATCH-The Hebrew phrase, “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof" (Deut. 16:20), is usually translated as "Justice, Justice you shall pursue.”

CHATTERBOX--In a "heinous lie" aimed at distorting the historical record and avoiding responsibility for the mass cruelty perpetuated on her watch, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen falsely claimed in a series of tweets late Sunday that the Trump administration does "not have a policy of separating families at the border."

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#MeToo … Too Far

1) #MeToo Absurdity. Netflix crew members, on hit shows, are now banned from lingering hugs, asking for phone numbers and the "piece de re-sis-tance" looking at one another for more than five seconds. Anonymous sources claim all employees will be issued stop watches so they never go over the 5 second limit. 

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