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Keeping Your Family Safe in Public Restrooms

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Focus on the Family offers helpful guidance and ideas for keeping children safe in public restrooms. Parents can be educated and equipped, plan ahead, and act appropriately to deal with “gender identity” policies and laws.

NOTE: Referral to websites not produced by Focus on the Family is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites’ content. Some links deal with sensitive and difficult issues and may contain content for mature readers

Try googling “bathroom wars” or “Target + gender identity” or “Title IX + restrooms” and you’ll find millions of online results. It seems like everyone has something to say about these issues. Some of the search results are downright scary, detailing violations of privacy and safety in public facilities due to so called “bathroom” laws.

How would you respond if you or a family member encountered someone of the oppose sex in a public restroom? How do you keep your family safe in a potentially dangerous environment?

Here are some ideas and guidelines for keeping you and your family safe. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we hope it provides assistance in understanding gender confusion and prompts planning ahead for you and your family’s privacy and safety.


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First, Educate Yourself

Relax; you don’t have to become an expert on “gender identity” or “transgenderism.” In fact, even medical and psychological experts don’t fully understand these issues and there is no real consensus on the underlying factors of gender confusion or how to treat gender-confused individualsSee, for example, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations statement which differs greatly from groups who promote opposite-sex hormones and surgery: https://cmda.org/resources/publication/transgender-identification-ethics-statement . In addition, the language keeps changing on these issues, some of the ideas behind this movement directly contradict each other, and different factions within the movement often clash with each other. Trying to keep up with all the changes and nuances is impossible

But, as transgenderism becomes bigger in the culture, we suggest you understand some of the basic ideas behind the movement. We encourage you to make a start by reading the rest of this online article series:

  • Public Restrooms ― Privacy and Safety
  • What is “Gender Identity”?
  • Who is included in the “Transgender” Umbrella?
  • Do Gender Identity Laws Affect Me and My Family?
  • How Did We Get To this Gender-Confused Place?

Beyond that, we have created a number of resources that explain God’s creation of humanity in His image as male and female. It’s also helpful to know how the concepts of “gender identity” and “transgenderism” contradict biblical teaching and biological reality.

To learn even more about how transgender ideology affects all aspects of the culture, we have a listing of our many articles and blogs on this issue at “Understanding Transgenderism.”

And for those who really want to dive deeply into this issue, Focus on the Family staff member Glenn Stanton, along with our friends at Family First―New Zealand, has created a downloadable resource, “Boys, Girls, Other: Making Sense of the Confusing New World of Gender Identity.”

While we want to understand and engage the culture on this issue, we also want to remember that this is deeply personal for many individuals and families. “Responding to “SOGI” Laws—Tone and Truth” has suggestions for discussing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” laws with grace and truth, while “Resources for Transgenderism and Gender Identity Disorder” has information for individuals and families looking for healing and wholeness. 

Plan ahead and Act Without Aggression

Planning ahead applies to everything from sending your children to school to having your kids participate in sports to joining a gym or spa. Ask polite, but direct questions:

  • What does your school teach about “gender” and “gender identity”? What is your school athletic department’s policy about restrooms and locker rooms? Can a boy who thinks he’s a girl play on a girls’ team – and vice versa?
  • Do you have separate showers, changing facilities, and restrooms for men and women? If so, how do you plan to keep them separate?
  • What’s your policy regarding individuals who identify as the opposite sex? Who express themselves as the opposite sex? Who believe they are a different “gender” from male and female?
  • Do you have single-user or family changing facilities and restrooms that we could use, if needed?

Planning ahead includes thinking through how you would respond if someone of the opposite sex enters a locker room, dressing room or restroom. We suggest: Quickly finish your business, get dressed, and leave the room without confronting the individual.

For some adults, it may be a natural instinct to confront the individual if they encounter this kind of situation. Our protective mechanisms kick in, especially when children or other family members are involved. However, if you respond with anger or aggression, you may be the one in trouble with the law ― not the person who entered the facility designed for members of the opposite sex.

Of course, there are things you can do in response: Complain to the management, tell your story, sign a petition, write a letter, or post a video explaining why you oppose these policies that open bathrooms to all.

It’s important for people to understand how “gender identity” laws are affecting others. But remember, the manager may be under guidance from headquarters that is different from your thinking. Strongly and kindly state your opposition, but don’t get involved in an argument or altercation or argument.  

If you encounter a dangerous or illegal situation: Take your children, leave immediately, and phone the authorities. Planning ahead for such situations will help you to act calmly and decisively.

Stay with Your Children

Use common sense, keeping safety in mind, but as much as possible, we suggest escorting your children to public facilities ― even if they’re a little older and roll their eyes or protest and exclaim, “Whatever.” Very young children, keep with you, of course. For older kids, you might station yourself outside the door to keep an eye on who is going in and out.

Of course you can’t be with your children every moment. But you can still plan ahead and be proactive. For example, if family members or friends are taking your children to an event, let your family members or friends know that you want someone to stay with the kids while they use restrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms. You might calmly explain about the new world of “gender neutral” bathrooms and how some predators have taken advantage of this situation.

For pre-teens and teens, encourage them to use restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities with a friend. This’ll probably be easier with girls, as they tend to go in groups, anyway.

Educate Your Children About God’s Design For Sex And Sexuality

One of the most important jobs for any parent is to educate and equip children on important topics ― including sex and sexuality. This education should start early and be age appropriate, biblically sound, and in the form of an ongoing dialogue with children.

Focus on the Family’s counseling staff receives many calls about this ― and parents are often reluctant to begin this process with their children. We encourage you to educate and equip your child, and we can help you in that process. Some of the basics that children should learn from a young age:

  • God made humans in His image male and female.
  • Individuals are born either male or female.
  • Boys and girls are different both are important and valuable.
  • Because we are made in God’s image, we are valuable and worth protecting.
  • Your body is good and was designed by God for a purpose.
  • Mommy and Daddy will help protect you.
  • You can learn things to protect and take care of yourself.

Thankfully, we’ve got some great resources to assist you in this area, including:

Focus on the Family’s “How Can We Help?” and Parenting: Sexuality sections of our website have dozens of questions and answers and articles about talking with children about sex and sexuality. 

Equip Your Children to Deal With Unsettling Situations

Teach your children that certain parts of the body are private, and we keep those parts covered and protected. Both “The Talk” and “God Made All of Me,” listed above, have great information on communicating these truths. They also teach a simple three-step response for children when someone (other than mom or dad, a doctor or trusted family members) tries to see or touch those parts inappropriately. Check out those resources for more guidance, but the basic response to teach and for your child to practice is: 

  • Say, “No.”
  • Walk away.
  • Tell Mommy and Daddy (or a teacher or other trusted adult).

Learn More About These Issues and Get Involved

Most of the cities, counties and states that have passed special protections based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” did so under the radar ― without a lot of publicity, debate or input from individuals. They often did so without any real justification, too. Council members would ask, “How many complaints have we had on these issues?” Often, there was a resounding silence. In addition, many have not thought through the full effects of adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to nondiscrimination laws.

At the federal level, the reinterpretation of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” has taken place at the administrative level, through various federal agencies. Being male or female has been redefined without the input from the courts, Congress, or the public.

Here are a few simple suggestions for learning more and getting involved in these issues:

  • Subscribe to our award-winning Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. This must-have resource will inform you about today’s issues and inspire you with stories about Christians making a difference for good in our broken world. 
  • Sign up for our weekly Thriving Values e-Newsletter. We will help keep you updated on transgenderism – and other political and social issues – that continue to affect you, your family, schools, the church and our culture.
  • Get connected with other like-minded citizens. One good way to do this is by finding out about and participating with your state Family Policy Council. These groups advocate at the state and local level on issues related to marriage, family, education, life and religious freedom.
 

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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