This university's transgender bathroom signs are on point.

Michigan Technological University's bathrooms signs are being widely shared for good reason.

With greater visibility and acceptance in society, LGBTQ+ communities have also faced greater scrutiny in certain areas, including where it's appropriate for people who are transgender to relieve themselves.

Most of us have been using bathrooms with transgender folks for our entire lives; we just haven't been aware of it. But thanks to widely publicized anti-trans "bathroom bills" that attempt to require people to use the bathroom designated for the genitalia they had at birth, the issue of who goes where has become a much bigger thing than it needs to be.


But signs at Michigan Technological University bring us back to the basics of decency, respect, and privacy, which is all any of us really want in our public peeing experiences.

The simplicity of the instructions highlight why the transgender bathroom debates are rather silly.

So much of the fuss over transgender people and bathroom use comes down to basic human decency.

First of all, it's incredibly rude to assume anything about anyone's genitalia, especially in a public restroom. I mean, really.

Secondly, some women can have a masculine appearance. Some men are quite feminine. That may be because they're transgender, or it may not be. There is zero way to know unless you want to cross some very clear boundary lines that no one has the right to cross.

Third, it's really no one's business what a stranger has in their pants unless they're doing something inappropriate, which would be a problem in a public restroom no matter what your gender or gender expression.

That's why these signs from MTU's Center for Diversity and Inclusion emphasize treating everyone in the bathroom with respect and dignity and then moving right along.

The signs read:

"DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOMEONE IS USING THE WRONG BATHROOM?

DON'T:

X Stare at them

X Challenge them

X Insult them

X Purposefully make them feel uncomfortable

DO:

> Respect their privacy

> Respect their identity

> Carry on with your day

Transgender and non-binary students—You have the right to be here:

- In this facility

- In this university

- In this community

- In this world.

We're all simply using the facilities we feel safe in. Please don't take this right away from anyone."

[rebelmouse-image 19346113 dam="1" original_size="691x960" caption="Connie Rice/Facebook" expand=1]Connie Rice/Facebook

So simple, and yet so hard for some people to grasp.

But what about pedophiles? Yeah, no.  

Fears over people who are transgender using the bathroom that matches their gender have been proven over and over to be unfounded. The people most at risk in a bathroom transgender people are using are transgender people themselves.

But people still ask questions such as "What's to stop a pedophile man from using a women's bathroom and preying on girls if people can choose the bathroom they use?" That may sound logical to some, but the scenario doesn't make sense when you think about the way many transgender people physically present.

If someone has physically transitioned so that their body matches their gender, you often can't even tell that they're transgender. By forcing people to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex at birth, you'd be forcing transitioned men to use women's bathrooms (and vice versa). These are men with beards and pectoral muscles and broad shoulders—men you wouldn't be able to differentiate from non-transgender men. See the problem? If transitioned men have to use women's bathrooms, then any man easily could—without even going through the hassle of dressing like woman. Therefore, anti-trans bathroom laws would do exactly nothing to make it harder for male pedophiles to use a women's bathroom.

But the pedophile argument is a scapegoat anyway, and a rather offensive one at that. The truth is that pedophiles have plenty of ways to prey on kids without using public restrooms, and that issue is entirely separate from where transgender folks go to the bathroom. As the sign from MTU points out, all people who are transgender want is to use the bathroom where they feel safest, and they have the right to pee in peace just like everyone else.  

It would be great if everyone just used the basic public restroom etiquette that's always been there: mind your business, keep your eyes to yourself, and wash your hands when you're done. It's really that simple.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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