I stood before two doors, each sporting placards embossed with transgender silhouettes. I knit my brows together. A decision had to be made — I really had to go. I chose the door on my right. To my surprise, the bathroom was exceptionally ordinary, containing a sink, toilet and wastepaper bin. Insatiably curious, I peeked inside the other bathroom: a carbon copy of the first.
Labeling single-occupant bathrooms as gender-neutral adds complexity to delicate issues, retrospectively creating a problem that didn’t need solving. Unnecessarily drawing attention where none was required appears reactionary, not progressive. While it is commendable that establishments strive for patron inclusivity, this seemed like a plug at political correctness rather than a symbol of holism. Does a private bathroom have to be a soapbox for social justice? It’s an 8×8 with a toilet and sink, but somehow the humble bathroom stumbled into the spotlight, for better or (more often) worse. A more genuine gesture would be taking understated action: simple “bathroom” placards would do nicely.
If we must battle, let’s choose wisely. Gender-equality issues are extremely polarized and need no additional fuel for their fire. Let’s call a spade a spade, or, in this case, a bathroom a bathroom.
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Employment for ex-cons
Employment provides the backbone to a healthy society. It is the lifeblood that supplies people with meaning and purpose in their lives. In our society, we don’t have a great system for introducing people who have been previously incarcerated back into the workforce. Some of these individuals have colorful and rough pasts, but after they have paid for their crimes, they have a difficult time finding employment. In fact, many ex-convicts end up returning to their previous lives of crime despite their integration efforts. Ex-convicts should be given an equal opportunity to receive a job after imprisonment. Therefore, as a society, we need to change our negative bias against them. A recent survey by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights discovered that 76 percent of former inmates said that finding work was difficult after being released. This not only makes it difficult to provide for basic living, but it also makes the transition to normal life difficult. How can we expect ex-convicts to ever contribute to society if they never get the chance to live a normal and productive life? The number of individuals that fall back into their same lifestyle of crime and violence is disturbingly high. This is a sad trend called recidivism. A recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over three-quarters of all prisoners return to prison within five years of their release (Durose). At such a high rate, the odds are indeed stacked against these former criminals.
From shouted insults and whispered disrespect to the general jeering and name-calling unfortunately characteristic to sporting events, there is something quintessential to a positive game experience absent from the bleachers of BYU: good sportsmanship. “Good sportsmanship,” as described by an article on the “Art of Manliness” webpage, “encompasses many aspects of … character, the most fundamental being respect.” It “truly enhances the experience of both playing and watching sports.” Good sportsmanship includes using “lung strength to root for your team and not against the other,” clapping respectfully when the other teams walk onto the field and seeing everyone — regardless of team affiliation — as human beings who, by divine nature, deserve respect.
The article encourages good sportsmanship by stating that “a win that does not come fairly holds no satisfaction for [those playing or watching].” Is it fair — which is defined as “just” or “appropriate” by the OED — to shout insults at opposing athletes (or, shockingly, our own)? Is it fair to justify our disregard for the commandment to “love one another” by the actions of others (“it’s all part of the game” mentality), and therefore encourage un-Christlike behavior? No, it is not.
For the sake of the hearts, ears, smiles and cheers of all fans present at BYU sporting events, we must define and deepen our university’s honor by encouraging fair play from fans as well as athletes. We can do this by setting an example of verbal and nonverbal respect for the athletes, referees, coaches, fellow fans and even — if not especially — those cheering for the other team.