Friday, September 1, 2023

Florida’s Draconian Bathroom Penalties & Faux “Intimacy”

Everybody's searching for intimacy 
Ooh ooh ooh ooh 
Everybody's hurting for intimacy 
Ooh ooh ooh ooh

The New York Times reported (Florida Approves Tough Discipline for College Staff Who Break Bathroom Law) that on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 the Florida Board of Education adopted new rules requiring the firing of employees at the state’s 28 regional college campuses who twice use (“despite being asked to leave”) restrooms designated for people who were assigned a different sex at birth than the employee was. The staggeringly harsh rule ostensibly implements, though is not required by, Florida state law enacted in May that limits gendered restroom access by the sex people were assigned at birth. The new regulation is expected to be echoed soon in new rules for the State University System, “which runs the [state’s] flagship campuses,” and whose governing body has been appointed by Gov. Ron Desantis, as were the members of the Florida Board of Education.

The Times quotes Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiologist appointed to the Florida Board of Education who supported the new penalties. Dr. Christie is a Senior Fellow for the Catholic Association and hosts a radio show “Conversations with Consequences.” She explained her vote with the not uncommon but specious claim that “Bathroom spaces are very intimate and private.” “Intimate” could have a number of meanings in this context, but as I have explained in the Minnesota Journal of Law and Inequality, “notions of intimacy as relational, intimacy as a sharing of personal information, intimacy as emotional safety, and intimacy as in intimate anatomical parts” fail “either to accurately describe common restrooms or to justify denying transgender persons gender-appropriate access to such facilities, or both.” (David B. Cruz, Making Sex Matter: Common Restrooms as “Intimate” Spaces?)