Stop Using Your Children As An Excuse To Be A Hateful Human Being

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 

Parents use #BoycottTarget to protest Target’s inclusive bathroom policy

On Wednesday, Target announced a policy allowing transgender people to use whatever restroom corresponds with their gender identity. Needless to say, people are pissed. The Target Facebook page is flooded with hateful comments, and now the American Family Association is calling for a boycott of the retailer because their policy “poses a danger to wives and daughters.” With all due respect to their unreasonable protests, I call bullshit.

I wrote the original Scary Mommy post reporting on Target’s inclusive bathroom policy — a post that generated hundreds of angry comments, as well as a handful of messages sent to me personally. At the center of each was the assertion that I, as a mother, should support discrimination wholeheartedly because it’s the only way to protect my kids from thousands of predators who’ve apparently been waiting with bated breath for this golden opportunity to waltz past the impenetrable forcefield created by “women’s restroom” signs.

“As a mother, how in the world could you be in support of transgender bathrooms,” wrote one person on my professional Facebook page. “You are now in support of allowing every child molester and rapist in the bathroom with your daughter because he is allowed, all he has to say is that he identifies with women.”

As a mother, there are a lot of ways I could respond to this. I could point out that a paltry restroom sign was never going to prevent a true predator from harming someone in the first place. I could remind everyone how offensive it is to even make the leap from talking about the transgender community to discussing sexual predators in the same sentence. I could even point out that the majority of us have probably shared a restroom with a transgender person at some point and not even known it because they just want to pee.

If you’re truly worried about child sex abuse, then as a responsible parent, it’d behoove you to know that in three-quarters of sex abuse cases, children are harmed not by pooping strangers, but by members of their own family or someone they know. Furthermore, while girls carry a one in four chance of being sexually abused before age 18, the risk for boys is one in six. If bathroom predators are truly an issue, why on earth would I be worried about my daughter but not my son?

The truth is, people aren’t worried about their wives or their daughters, about the imaginary boogeyman in the next stall, or protecting the sanctity of their Target bathroom — what they’re really afraid of is opening their minds. For some, discriminating against people is easier than trying to understand them or having to alter their perspectives in order to afford others the same respect and compassion they’d demand for themselves.

The idea that we’re somehow protecting our children by discriminating against transgender people is abhorrent and a complete load of shit. Even worse, it’s teaching an entire generation of kids that discrimination is okay as long as you can come up with some really scary lie to justify your own prejudices.

Children learn by example. Through them, we have the power to either make the world a better, more accepting place or to make it worse. When we teach kids to fear people who don’t live like them or to hate what they don’t understand, we make it worse. If you’re really worried about protecting your kids from the ugliness that exists in this world, stop using them as an excuse to be a hateful human being.

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