My latest at Independent Journal Review is an opinion piece that discusses Pure Pizza, a trendy pizzeria here in Charlotte that has been thrust into the national spotlight after a customer and friend of the owner recently posted a picture of the owner’s unisex bathroom policy on social media, in place for five months or so. The image went viral, news outlets started writing about it, and now people are talking.
I hope you’ll click on the link and read it in full because it provides context and background, but I wanted to expand on it a bit here.
Thumbs Up for:
1) This was a business-level decision, customer-driven. The government didn’t step in and demand the owner, Juli Ghazi, install a unisex restroom. She took it upon herself.
2) It’s not the only restroom. There’s also a women’s restroom. There is a related “thumbs down” on this which I’ll get into later.
3) It was implemented as a good-faith gesture not just to accommodate “transgender” people, but other customers who have conflicts over which restroom to utilize due to the following circumstances – at least one or more with which many of us can identify:
Single Dads with daughters
Single Moms with sons
Parents with disabled children
Adults with aging parents who may be mentally/physically disabled
4) The unisex bathroom in question has stalls with “sturdy doors and locks”, according to the owner. It’s not a urinal.
Thumbs Down for:
1) There is not a mens restroom anymore. Men probably have less issues with having to use a “gender neutral bathroom” but some will have an issue (though they’ll probably keep it to themselves), especially dads with young boys.
2) In response to a Yelp reviewer in early December who complained about the “no men’s restroom” issue, the owner said she was considering making the women’s restroom unisex as well to “avoid confusion.” Not a great idea, IMO. For women, it’s different. It’s their “getaway”, their “safe space” when out on the town, with friends, daughters, etc. I expand on this more at IJ.
In my conversation with the owner on Twitter, she stressed it’s just a consideration at this point and nothing more as the current set up works. Hopefully it will stay that way. My issue isn’t with unisex facilities in and of themselves. It’s when they are the ONLY option.
@sistertoldjah consideration is far from making it happen. What we have works w/out issue.
— Pure Pizza (@PurePizzaCLT) January 15, 2016
If the current set-up is working for her and her customers, great. My ideal solutions aren’t always going to mesh 100% with everyone else’s. That’s ok. It’s life. It’s a free country.
This issue has become a hot button issue in Charlotte over the last few years, so much so that our city and county elected leaders – dominated by Democrats – are even divided over how to handle it because as, with everything else under the sun, the people demand government “resolve” the issue and so they claim to be trying. Ms. Ghazi has found one that works for her business right now, and it’s one that is not that far off from what many like me who have concerns would propose and/or be comfortable with (and have suggested in the past) going forward.
And here’s the bonus: The best solution of all, detailed below, would make almost everybody happy. The few who would continue to complain are just people who want to hear themselves talk. Always gonna be people like that.
If the government wants to “help”, here’s what they should do:
1) Don’t mandate unisex facilities. I’m not just talking about bathrooms, but also locker rooms, dressing rooms, etc. Let it be decided by individual owners, and what their customers request of them. The law of supply and demand and all that. If enough people want it, they will build it. And if there is demand and the demand isn’t met, the customers will go elsewhere. Or so it goes. Which brings me to:
2) Create a tax incentive (GASP!) for business owners to install unisex facilities in addition to the traditional male/female facilities they already have. If they have the room to add them, the tax incentive could cover the cost of adding the facility so it’d be a win win. Hello?
3) While we’re at it, create that same tax incentive for business to add changing facilities for babies in MEN’s & unisex restrooms as well. Actor Ashton Kutcher, for all his faults, got this one right.
Ok, I’ve said about all I can say on this – for tonight, anyway! Your thoughts?
PS: I hope to get by Pure Pizza in the next month or so, where the owner has offered me a free pizza and sit-down conversation. Woohoo. The words “free” and “pizza” work so well together. I’ve got my eye on the T-Rex craft pizza …