LGBTQ Hold It Day

Every era has its movement for social justice. In the 1910s, it was the movement for women’s suffrage; in the 1960s, it was the African American civil rights movement. Now the focus is on the LBGTQ community. While every group deserves social justice, there are good ways and bad ways to reach the goal. Gay pride parades are a good example of this. Held annually in Seattle and many other large cities, the parades are made to spread awareness and to help encourage those who are still afraid to admit who they are. While there are a great deal of good ideas, not all are quite so elegant.
Recently, an event was proposed on campus to encourage the creation of more gender-neutral bathrooms. Dubbed “Hold It Day,” the event would involve placing “out of order” signs on the campus’ bathrooms, making it appear that there are few, if any, restrooms available on campus. While the event does emulate the feeling that comes with not having a restroom that matches your gender identity, I think that there are much more effective ways to get the point across than making the student body uncomfortable for a day. Actually, I think that leaving the student body without restrooms for a day would just end up pissing them off.
While the civil rights movements were based around a group of people getting tired of the lot given to them by society, the movements didn’t start in a day, rather, they formed over a number of years as people of all races and colors got together to change the social norm. This same process is actually well under way in the LBGTQ movement as laws and policies that limited the community are being struck down. In addition, whether like or unlike the other movements, one of the biggest assets in this movement has been simply making society as a whole aware of what is going on. Everything from people speaking out and sharing their experiences to large scale marches and protests in Washington DC have been employed to great effect. Similar tactics were used previously, and both the women’s suffrage and African-American civil rights movements have left their mark to this day.
While Hold It Day would certainly spread awareness of the desire for some gender neutral bathrooms, I haven’t heard of any similar events working without those involved voluntarily agreeing to participate. True, there have been similar events that came as a surprise to the general populace, for example, many web pages put up banners saying they were shut down to raise awareness about SOPA. However, those events weren’t concrete. They were quick, could be bypassed and did nothing but raise awareness.
Closing down the bathrooms themselves would have the same shock value, but there is no quick, easy bypass that students could take. Students would be forced to, as the name implies, hold it, which could end up with students experiencing some actual pain and possible physical harm simply because of an event that was made to raise awareness. Taking a note from the Internet’s reaction to SOPA and the “website closure” pages, putting up the signs with a note that it is just an exercise in social justice (and revealing that the bathrooms are still in fact open) would raise awareness with minimal pain and minimal anger on the general student body’s part. It’s important that people understand the issue, but if everyone just ends up holding their feelings in, the student body will suffer.