University president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ’s decision to designate all gender restrooms in the school campus was met with cheers and joy from the institution’s LGBT community.
The designation of all gender restrooms may seem trivial for some, yet it is considered to be a victorious milestone for the members of the LGBT community who have been facing discrimination both inside and outside the campus.
There are many instances in which the LGBT face problems with regard to using restrooms. Some do not know which gender assigned comfort room to use, while others choose not to use any restroom out of fear. For example, transgender men may not wish to use the men’s restroom because of fear of sexual harassment and criticism from males. Conversely, they might not feel any more comfortable using the women’s room due to possible discrimination from females.
If a person, regardless of gender, does not feel secure and/or safe when it comes to small matters such using the comfort room, then the said person is already being oppressed by the rules that society has set. Therefore, the call for all gender restrooms is considered to be an important step in establishing a more equal and fair setting.
The university and Tabora have been commended by not only friends from the LGBT community but also by people from other organizations and institutions for taking another step in promoting a more gender-sensitive culture in the academe.
However, amidst all the happiness regarding the Ateneo’s pro-gender equality move, harshly conservative and prejudiced sentiments began to arise and threaten the festivities.
Just recently, inquirer.net published an article regarding the said issue, quoting Tabora’s memorandum regarding LGBT discourse. Various people began to post degrading and discriminatory remarks against Tabora in the comments section. The remarks range from accusing Tabora of being a perverted gay to him endorsing a culture of sexual harassment within the school. Others also stated that Tabora should be stripped of his position as a priest for initiating such a decision.
The fact that a great number of people not only vehemently speak out against decisions that promote gender-sensitivity but also criticize and defame persons who endorse better equality among all sexes is an indicator of a still prevalent close-minded and sexist culture.
What makes the situation even more saddening is the fact that in spite of progressive liberal movements here in the Philippines, the old clutches of conservatism still have a firm grip on the members of society.
The efforts of progressive equalizing ideologies have still yet to fully free this country from the oppressing chains that keep it in an repressive state that ostracizes minorities. However, it can be said that everyone can take comfort in the fact that the Philippine society is moving forward (even if it is at a slow pace).