Behind Closed Doors: The Same-Sex Bathroom Debate

By Daniel R. Altiere

NEW YORK Just when we thought gender issues in the workplace couldn't get any stickier, someone proposes same-sex bathrooms.

We are harassing each other into court every other day in every other company across the country, and here we are stepping quite literally behind one of the only set of closed doors left in corporate America.

Isn't it obvious that this initiative would simply provide yet another arena (one of unfathomable vulnerability) for potential workplace misdoings?

Or is it?

Perhaps blurring the gender lines promotes sensitivity training, fosters empathy between the sexes and helps us erase our own impractical gender. For isn't gender an unnecessary accoutrement in the office today? Isn't that what human resources departments would have us believe?

We know you don't have to be a man to do any job out there, just like you don't have to be a woman, either. So if you shouldn't identify yourself by gender when you conduct business, why should you identify yourself by gender when you conduct, well, that thing you conduct behind closed doors?

The Emmy award-winning FOX show, Ally McBeal, is set in a law office in which there is a same-sex bathroom. It makes for great comedy. When asked about how this pertains to the story, actress Calista Flockhart (who plays the show's namesake character) said the unisex bathroom was important to the drama and tension of the characters because it created an office environment where you are never, ever safe. In such an environment, there are no sanctuaries left.

Perhaps that's why some corporations are keen on this new gender-erasing arrangement.

Or maybe they just think it makes for great comedy.