Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • It’s More Complicated than “Just Pee”

    By Neil A. Carousso

    As we mourn the tragic loss of life in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in United States history in Orlando, FL early Sunday morning in a gay nightclub, Americans react to the unfortunate, continued intolerance by some individuals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Debate over transgender rights remains in the forefront of conversation and controversy.

    On June 3, Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, along with the cast of the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, published a re-written performance titled “Just Pee,” a symbol of support to their LGBTQ fanbase.

    In a humorous, Broadway-esque performance, the Kinky Boots cast dances in a bathroom at the Threshold Recording Studios in New York City while singing “Just Pee,” with the message that “you can change the world when you change your mind.” However, the word “hate” gets thrown around when LGBT advocates speak about those who oppose the controversial HB2 law, commonly referred to as the “bathroom bill.”

    Hate, like comparisons to Adolf Hitler or calling someone racist, has been thrown around without much thought, stifling dialogue about issues in favor of an attempt to prove one is not hateful, Hitler or racist. People who oppose HB2 do not necessarily oppose LGBT rights; in fact, many people have friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. However, lawmakers must be vigilant when accommodating such a small percentage of the population that may compromise the vast majority of Americans. The most commonly cited number of transgender people living in the U.S. is 700,000, which is about 0.2 percent of the population.

    In addition, it must be decided definitively how someone is classified as transgender. President Barack Obama made a sweeping directive to public schools on May 13 in regards to transgender students using bathrooms matching gender identification. The president’s letter threatened to remove federal funding for schools who did not comply. School concerns and policy is generally left to individual states to handle as opposed to the federal government. Most liberals, including Obama, clearly define transgender as one who identifies as a gender regardless of one’s reproductive organs. One can see the problems this may cause in single-sex college dormitories where college campus assault is rampant with the most common statistic being that 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted at some point during college. People are concerned that the wrong people will gain access to single-sex dorms, or other venues, because they state that they “identify” as a particular gender without having to provide medical documentation. Others argue that one is transgender when they have gone through the medical procedure to change one’s gender or at the very least, commit to that process, verified by a medical professional.


    President Obama issued a mandate to public schools to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. (Courtesy: Flickr/Statsministerens kontor and iStockphoto)
    President Obama issued a mandate to public schools to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. (Courtesy: Flickr/Statsministerens kontor and iStockphoto)

    The other concern people, including many parents, have are the use of locker rooms. If an elementary school student, born a male but identifies as a female, gains access to female locker rooms, the student would be changing and potentially, showering with females who have different reproductive organs than the born-male student. Parents are rightfully concerned about how to approach such a complex situation with their children and whether they should be exposed and subjected  to deep, complicated issues with which they never had to grapple.

    So while we have become more of a tolerant society and the country stands with the LGBTQ community in the wake of the carnage in Orlando over the weekend, there are still concerns about allowing those who identify as transgender into single-sex, bathrooms, locker rooms, dorm rooms and others where people may feel uncontrollably uncomfortable. Perhaps, all bathrooms should be individual; while expensive, this could easily solve the debate to move on to more serious national security issues.


    Cyndi Lauper at a red carpet event. (Courtesy: ABC News)
    Cyndi Lauper at a red carpet event. (Courtesy: ABC News)

    While notable musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato have canceled performances in North Carolina to protest the bathroom bill, Lauper performed in Raleigh, NC after the above video was published online while planning to donate the funds to Equality North Carolina, which is a LGBT-rights group.

    The LGBTQ community was targeted at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub by 29-year-old terrorist Omar Mateen, an American citizen, born in New York and raised in Florida. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating specific motives and Mateen’s radicalization.


    Featured image courtesy of Jason Szenes, European Pressphoto Agency.

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