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“The Bathroom Bill”

February 17, 2012 in Off Topic, Toilets

Baltimore County, in Maryland, USA is currently passing legislation to protect the rights of transgender people and prevent them being discriminated against. However, as often happens with complex legislation and public opinion when it comes to legislation that they don’t have the time to analyse, small details of the bill have become a source of contention for much of the population. The bill has become known as “the bathroom bill” because of the effect It would have on public toilets. In the face of the controversy local council members have made public toilet facilities and locker rooms exempt from the measures.

Apparently, in public consultation about the legislation, the fear of women being attacked by men in public toilets was cited as a reason for opposition to the legislation. Proponents of the legislation say that this is scaremongering by those trying to prevent it passing and say that similar laws have not seen any rise in such incidents being reported. They say that the law would add gender identity to existing discrimination laws that cover housing, workplaces and public spaces.

The amendment already has support from the majority of the council members, who want to make toilets, bath houses, dressing rooms, locker rooms and changing rooms exempt from the law. Other amendments on the table include making places of worship exempt from the law and one which allows employers to ensure that their employees dress appropriately for work within the constraints of the gender that they identify with.

More than 60 people attended the council meeting to make their voices heard; such was the depth of feeling on the issue. Supporters of the bill told of people who were fired from their jobs or even physically assaulted because they are transgender. In some cases parents spoke of their own experiences of having children who informed them that they were transgender.

One advocate of the bill showed graphic footage of a transgender woman being attacked when she tried to use a toilet at a local fast food restaurant. Mara Drummond said “I want this image to be in your head when you give people the power to police what bathrooms other people use.”

Opposition to the bill came from those who said that it was against their religion, who believed that it would lead to sexual assault of women in public toilets and that it would unleash a torrent of lawsuits against local business for perceived transgressions of the bill.

Obviously, with the privacy and intimacy of visits to the toilet, this is an issue that people will have an emotive and instinctive reaction to. It may not always be reasoned but it is something that is a closely held belief and inspires a lot of passion. It’s something that will affect every business in Baltimore County when they come to choose cloakroom suites to fit in their new bathrooms, working out if they are going to comply with legislation and making sure they don’t offend any of their patrons.

University Toilets For Sale, But Not How You Think

February 15, 2012 in Bathroom Suites, Cloakroom Suites, Uncategorized

In the current economic climate it’s often hard to make ends meet. This is true all of us, but also large bodies and even educational establishments. As student numbers dry up, governments cut budgets everywhere they can and donors are less likely to dig in their pockets. Faced with these challenges many colleges and universities are looking for new revenue streams. One that many universities and colleges in the USA have decided to try is naming rights for toilet stalls. Or, as our American cousins call them, bathrooms.

Rather than writing rude messages, puerile humour or vindictive messages about their exes on the toilet walls and doors, donors can pay to have their names immortalised on the smallest room. No doubt this is where some profound thoughts are formed amongst some great minds, but it does seem unconventional to immortalise your name on a toilet rather than on a statue or even a bench.

In the American state of Utah, a donation of $2,000 to the Dixie State College you can have your name emblazoned on a toilet stall. Initially this was for the toilets in a new building intended for a musical theatre troupe. Unfortunately uptake was unexpectedly slow and the building was not completed and the troupe is unfortunately out of business.

However, this isn’t an isolated effort. The prestigious Harvard Law School has opened the the Falik Men’s Room. The prestigious Boston, Massachusetts based Ivy League establishment is nothing like as reasonable as its Utah competition and William Falik donated some $100,000 to his old school in an effort to heighten public awareness of a fellowship named after his father. For a donation that size Steven Oliveira, Harvard Law’s dean for development and alumni relations, said that the organisation was happy to go along with the donor’s wishes. “We thought it was kind of tongue in-cheek and we were willing to do it,” said Oliveira.

Not all universities are quite so willing to accept donations for this kind of naming. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was apparently approached by an ex student of their’s called Brad Feld about a decade ago looking to name some toilets in exchange for a donation. They refused.

Feld was not deterred, however, and managed to get a toilet named after him at the University of Colorado in their Boulder science building. John Bennett, Director of the university’s Alliance for Technology, Learning & Society, John Bennett, approached Feld and offered him the chance to sponsor a campus toilet for $25,000 after hearing that he had been rejected by MIT. Feld lives in Boulder and agreed immediately. Obviously he wasn’t deterred by the perceived status of the toilet when it comes to having his name on the building and the college could get a lot of cloakroom suites with that money.