Last year the HRO was passed for LGBT rights in Jacksonville and last month I was invited to the Women’s Center’s Open Door celebration and given a personal tour of their facilities by one of the board members who had pointed out to me that they were supportive and all-inclusive of both LGBTQIA men and women despite the gendered bathrooms. She showed me two identical single-stall restrooms. One single restroom was for men and the other single restroom was for women. They were informed that in order to meet the city’s code they could not be gender neutral bathrooms. It seemed odd given the fact that the HRO had passed. I took note to think about this at a later time. This afternoon, I went and reviewed the ordinances online which, by the way, was an extremely tedious process. It seems a number of businesses including one I visited in downtown Jacksonville, Chamblin Bookmine, have gender-neutral single stall bathrooms. I decided to search the web instead. I came across this article.
“The law does not have any new requirements regarding bathroom usage.”
“Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a set of guidelines regarding bathroom access for transgender workers. The guidelines recommend providing better access to options for transgender individuals with gender-neutral facilities.”
I’m not sure why the Women’s Center could not have single stall restrooms, but maybe this is one of those situations where the inspector was misinformed? I don’t know, but it all seems ridiculous to me. Can you imagine if we were required to have gendered single stall bathrooms at home? What about the campgrounds or art’s market? We seem to accept these single, gender-neutral bathrooms just fine, but we can’t or won’t accept the ones inside a building.
Here are some arguments why political correctness doesn’t have a place in public discourse. For those who spoke on bill 2012-296 at the city council hearings last year, reports came in that there was an attempt at censorship by some of those within our borders who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality, including manipulative control by city council members in undermining those who, as LGBT, spoke out about abuse and threats they had encountered over the years. One of the city council members compared the LGBT to citizens living in Egypt. Whether anyone at the time realized it or not, the insults weren’t just directed to LGBT in Jacksonville, but were also directed at Egyptians; Kimberly Daniels, one of the city council members stated she had heard that some of the Egyptians practiced bestiality and necrophilia; implying that gay people did the same. The outrage could be felt throughout the room and while there were many unkind and untruths spoken, ranging from some of the city council members to those in the audience, the LGBT voices seemed to be nullified in the eyes of those who were homophobic. The rules had to be followed and anyone who spoke at the city council hearings had (3) minutes without uninterrupted time by either party from the audience, which wasn’t always a practice adhered by some of the city council members. Much debate ensued on whether or not the LGBT were presenting favorably as citizens. Destiny children had their theories and those who had impressions based on absolutely very little historical fact and mostly false rhetoric were determined to lead the process under the assumption that political correctness would nullify any negative perceptions.
The measure to pass the bill failed as did the amended bill.
Two of the city council members, Denise Lee and Warren Jones voted in favor of the bill which encompassed the full inclusive language and if passed, would have protected LGBT; the watered-down version failed a 10-9 vote.
It became quite evident that the arguments presented weren’t enough. Very little focus was placed on statistics from valuable sources, such as Centers for American Progress (CAP), SAGE and GLAAD, including our local organizations, such as JASMYN; the civic leaders who spoke up didn’t present economic arguments other than to say “It is the right thing to do”, and while that may be what the LGBT and the community of their allies believed, it wasn’t a sentiment shared among mainstream Jacksonville. Civic leaders could have easily presented measured data to support the need to vote in favor of bill 296.
Reports came in from a few individuals that the civic leaders took measures in their own hands, moved through matters very quickly, barring very little time for educational measures by those who were well equipped to dialogue about the differences in the bill and the proposed amendment, causing the Committee for Equality to lose control of the process.
Hours of deliberation and months later, the community of LGBT felt betrayed and angered for a number of reasons. The discussions among those who talked about the process complained, they had been misled by those on the inside who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality. The Jacksonville Committee for Equality defended themselves and felt they had lost control – despite the well-intentioned efforts of those who spoke out on behalf of the bill. The LGBT community learned too late that the fully inclusive bill had been replaced with the amended version and was told that every measure would be taken to include the full inclusive language at another time. Historically, this has failed as what happened in Orlando some years ago and what had been pointed out by Equality Florida’s executive director, Nadine Smith and Joe Saunders who now serves House District 49 in Florida.
The transgender community felt deceived and for good reasons. The population of transgender persons runs the highest risk for homicides, worldwide and according to GLAAD, 45% of reported hate murders were Transgender women.
The LGBT community didn’t have any idea what had happened last year and by the time anyone had bits and pieces of various versions passed on down, the LGBT and some of the allies lost faith in the process, which brings us currently to the same concerns; the newly formed committee has some hoops through which to jump if they are to win back the trust of those who felt marginalized and thrown under the bus.
Is it any wonder why the transgender community of Jacksonville was angered by anyone from within the borders agreeing to the proposed amendment? Those from within the borders claim they did not see this coming and expressed heartfelt sadness over the shift that occurred. Will they be in control this time around?
When the LGBT could not have their feelings validated without being viewed as negative by even those from within the borders, they experienced what many victims experience, trauma. Claims were heard that they were blamed for having negative views and therefore, would somehow affect the political platform and took the criticisms personally. Some of these individuals will not speak out for fear that they will be verbally attacked.
In defense of the LGBT, not one individual was prepared to hear city council members pass degrading remarks at those who reported incidences of being fired because of their sexual orientation, or whose property had been vandalized. The LGBT who reported the incidences were led to believe that their behavior (simply for having a sexual orientation other than that of heterosexuality and gender nonconformity) caused the vandalism and were the reasons for losing their jobs. What would this mean for heterosexuals who are gender non-conforming? How many of these individuals have experienced marginalization? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care enough to ask these questions within this population who might be mislabeled as gay and who were denied equal opportunities?
Lastly, the LGBT were angered by political correctness enforced upon them within their borders. One such individual, Professor Steven Lance Stoll, spoke up and challenged the city council members on why they were following a book written back in the Bronze age. Did any of the city council members vote against the bill and the watered down version because of their religious beliefs?
Currently, there are nine city council members who were honored at First Baptist Church for heeding FBC advice to vote against the bill. Please visit YouTube for more information on FBC honoring the city council members. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJxO0D4d9Fo.
The Witherspoon Institute on August 13, 2013, published an article on Dissecting Public Discourse written by Stella Morabito who points out that the problem with political correctness, or PC, is that “we all perpetuate political correctness when we succumb to the fear of contradicting PC” truth.”
What happens in groups? Is it normal to witness self-assignments without any votes being cast? What makes some of these individuals privileged? Granted, some of the individuals now have experience from which to draw that they did not have last year. Will they listen to those who raise concerns or are they more concerned, once again, about behavior, personalizing the criticism received by those who do speak up or raise concerns?
I was one of these individuals who was told that I am half cocked because I called people to task and asked a lot of questions. I removed myself from the committee after realizing that my voice would not count and was viewed as politically attacking and inappropriate, even though, I raised concerns based on rumors circulating from last year and public comments made by the LGBT. My overall concern with the process is will the floor communicate with the committee? Will those who question the process encounter repeated harassment with emails calling for private one on one meetings. Will they be accused of being half-cocked?
Morabito talks about psychological manipulation and its correlation to suppression. “If we think of PC as bacteria, suppression is like the dark room and the culture required for the bacteria’s growth and replication.”
She refers to suppression as one of the twins while the other is “saturation”. Morabito dissects the outcome and pointedly refers to this as producing an illusion that shifts public opinion by heavily saturating them with an impression, ‘opinion cascade’ as she calls it. The outcome? Regulating opinions of others. Politicians understand twin processes well enough to know that it results in “shaping public opinion and the political process.” according to Morabito.
Morabito writes that in 1999, an article on ‘availability cascade’ was published on a ‘related concept’ in Stanford Law Review where the purpose is to prevent people to think freely and fall victim to practice survival mode for social acceptance.
We have some people within our community who have been successfully silenced in this manner through social isolation and vilified as the enemy by those who might have experienced fear of going against PC.
Some of us watched and observed the toxic effect this had on our community and soon realized that some of the players were classifying themselves as our allies. A rhetorical question some of us had “Are some of our allies dispelling truth?”, and no pun intended here with the use of the label ‘all lies’, but it seems even some of them are propagating the idea that censoring behavior, expression and individual style must meet standards of their idea for PC. Are they correct? Are they suppressing voices within our own borders from the outside? Do they have the right to do so? Who grants them this privilege while we stand by and recognize that even among some of these allies they do not understand the gay culture. It is even more disturbing that within our borders even some of the LGBT want to compare LGBT rights to the black race issues. A black person will tell you that there isn’t any comparison, because the race issue continues to exist in present day. They cannot escape being black. Why then is there this need to continue to focus on the religious argument and play the race card? Why are we not educating the public on the different types of sexual orientations since anyone of any color and creed can have any of the sexual orientations? Is it because the religious evangelists have successfully managed to brainwash individuals from birth through tainted, hateful rhetoric? Isn’t this equally as damaging as any other addiction or is it deliberate and can we call this out as abuse? Isn’t it disturbing when we hear of people raised with fundamental religious views who take their own lives or those of others, because of their sexual orientation?
Morabito points out Cass Sunstein in a chapter of his book titled “On Rumors” 2009, referring to “chilling effect” as a tactic and essentially did everything he could to discredit Obamacare. Could we say this is what FBC and the Family Policy Council attempted?
What is Morabito’s recommendation in all of this? She suggests avoiding isolation and instead, to do the work by having conversations with others in the community in order to build a stronger voice. Morabito writes “if enough people come out of isolation and shed the fear of speaking their minds, a genuine cascade of truth will ensue.”
Social media allows for this opportunity, however, some of the LGBT and allies have been verbally attacked on FB by those who viewed their remarks as negative. Who are these destiny children? Why are they so afraid? Do they really believe that speaking the truth and raising concerns will result in bad outcomes?
To read more about Stella Morabito please refer to her article on Public Discourse. It is an excellent read. The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, and The Human Life Review feature some of Morabito’s articles.
The information pertaining outside of any references made to Morabito’s article does not in any way reflect her views. These are views gathered from various LGBT members in the community who over time have expressed similar sentiments along with the author.