So, I know these two things don't seem related at first glance, but bear with me:
1. I feel strongly that libraries should have gender-neutral bathrooms.
2. Today I found a 750 ml bottle of peppermint Schnapps in the women's bathroom.
Somewhat ironically, the Downtown Library, which has a very liberal staff, has traditional men's and women's bathrooms, while Small Town Library, which is located in a pretty conservative community, instead has four single-user gender neutral bathrooms. I suspect this is not a deliberately progressive choice on the part of Small Town Library but rather the result of having a user base of parents with children young enough that their parents still have to go into the bathroom stalls with them.
Back to the Schnapps: It was a useful reminder that 90% of Downtown Library's crazy problems and incidents take place in bathrooms--the drug deals, the overdoses, the prostitution. This is because the rest of the library has security cameras, but you can't put a security camera in a bathroom.
As far as I'm concerned, the ethical superiority of gender neutral bathrooms is pretty self-evident. It shouldn't be the job of public institutions to make you declare a gender identity. It's just not our business, especially for a privacy-oriented institution like a public library. Unfortunately, this argument is never going to convince Downtown Library to spend the money to renovate the bathrooms. But, another argument might: How would it affect Downtown's problem behaviors if all of our bathrooms were single-user? Every time two people went into the bathroom at the same time, it would be a clear red flag. Yes, occasionally someone would go in with a kid or with someone else who wasn't capable of using the bathroom alone, but all of the people who go in to take drugs together or drink alcohol together or have sex would look very suspicious all of a sudden.
It would really be nice to have our rather un-progressive security guards start monitoring the cameras outside the bathroom for pairs of people going in together instead of making a big deal of "a male dressed as a female entering the women's restroom."
(My favorite coworker was on desk with me when we heard the statement above come over the walkie-talkied. Normally she always politely asks if I mind if she leaves the desk, but this time she just looked at me and said, "Sorry, gotta go downstairs, I think they're about to try to kick a transwoman out of the library for using the women's bathroom." With Laura intervening in the issue, I'm at least confident that "try" was the key word.)