When Illinois State University changed their “Family Restroom” signs to “All Gender,” they most likely did not expect the switch to garner national attention. As it turns out however, Fox News has a keen eye for such changes.
Dubbing the new signs as a product of the “P.C. Police,” Fox News was both confused and even amused by the concept of such a restroom.
The news channel was so baffled by the idea that they even took to the streets asking random people outside of their studio if they understood the meaning of the “All Gender” sign.
A Fox News representative carried a large rendition of the sign, a figure that is half male and half female, and gave those they interviewed twenty seconds to see if they could determine its meaning. Likely to their dismay, not only were none of the people confused by the signs, but even the child that was asked completely understood what the sign was supposed to mean.
The reaction by Fox News really should not be surprising. The program has a long history of being insensitive to the transgender community as well as any group they perceive as “different.”
Their laughter and utter bewilderment of ISU’s new direction only reflects their inability to understand diversity or to empathize with other cultures. Complete disconnect.
Such a reaction, though, is not tolerable, especially in this day and age. As we attempt to push our country into a more progressive and an all-encompassing state, such attitudes simply have no place. If anything, Illinois State should be lauded for its attempt to create a more understanding community.
In the Fox News segment, Heather Nauert claimed that ISU students didn’t ask for these changes. This is true to some extent, but the reality is we did not need to. To be a student at Illinois State means entering an inclusive community, one that tries to recognizes the perspectives of all people.
The changes themselves may be small, as they only affect 10 restrooms, but their meaning is incredibly profound. They represent an attitude that is held by the university: everyone is welcome and ISU is committed to the needs of every student. Such an ideology shouldn’t be confusing to anyone.
Ideally, these changes will inspire other universities to do the same. This country suffers a lack of empathy for the transgender community and introducing gender neutral restrooms could be an important step in creating such understanding.
Even for those that do object to the philosophy behind a gender neutral restroom, it is not as if the changes will dramatically affect anyone in a negative way. Again, the “All-Gender” restrooms make up only a small portion of those found on campus and will still function in the same way that the “Family Restrooms” did.
Ultimately though, these new restrooms are the beginning of a bold new direction that ISU is taking. Regardless of the opinions of Fox News, these changes make ISU a better university. Students here should be proud that their university is truly a school for everyone.