A flawed premise
The premise of the recent Times-Dispatch article, “Hanover to build elementary school with no gendered bathrooms,” is flawed.
First and foremost, bathrooms never have been gendered (based on sex stereotypes). They have been sexed. And the reason why bathrooms are segregated by sex is females and males have very different needs in bathrooms, based on the reality of their sexes.
As a function of biology and anatomy, women and girls are more vulnerable when they use the restroom than men and boys are. Women and girls need to disrobe more fully, and they also need to use the restroom more often.
That’s not to mention the fact that 25% of women are menstruating at any given time, and a bathroom must be able to fulfill those needs as well. (For more on these disparities, check out the book "Invisible Women").
In an elementary school, the equation is slightly different, but I still have questions. What about the moment of vulnerability when girls are going in and out of the stalls? What about the girls who begin menstruating early?
The average age of onset of menses is shifting to a younger and younger age, and that trend will only continue. Fifty years down the line, is this layout still going to be serving girls?
Pretending that sexed differences don’t exist is not as radical as we seem to think these days. It’s actually not radical at all. It's far better to neutrally acknowledge the differences that do exist rather than trying to force everyone to fit into the same box.
Board member, Women's Declaration International USA.
PHOTOS: A look back through the Times-Dispatch archives
In July 1976, a crowd filled The Pass, a restaurant and music venue at 803 W. Broad St. in Richmond. The Pass opened in 1975 and was in business for about four years. In its short time, notable artists performed there, including John Mayall, Stanley Turrentine, Lydia Pense, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Earl Scruggs, Nicolette Larsen and Robert Palmer.
In February 1989, an exerciser made her way around the new outdoor track at the YMCA fitness center on Franklin Street in downtown Richmond. “Eighteen laps to the mile,” a Y official said.
In June 1977, Virginia State Penitentiary conducted a 12-hour shakedown and uncovered an array of items hidden throughout the prison, including about 100 “sharpened instruments.” The facility was located along Spring Street in Richmond.
In January 1978, Bill Heindl, a co-founder of the Heindl-Evans Inc. construction firm, oversaw progress on building a footbridge in James River Park at Texas Avenue in Richmond.
In July 1980, Matthew J. Robinson Jr., president of Imperial Broom Co., stood in his shop off Jennings Road in Henrico County. He was the fourth generation to run the family operation, which started making brooms in 1900.
In June 1960, Harry L. Donovan (dark suit), his handcuffs covered by a jacket, was escorted from the U.S. Marshal’s Office in downtown Richmond, en route to a four-year term in federal prison in Atlanta. For decades, Richmond was the center of Donovan’s numbers operation; he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of failing to pay wagering taxes.
In July 1959, cars were parked along 17th Street in Richmond looking toward Main Street.
In November 1961, Gov.-elect Albertis S. Harrison Jr. sat with wife Lacey (right) and daughter Toni. In a profile about the rising first family of Virginia, the three shared that they enjoyed playing bridge together, and Toni said she liked playing golf with her father while quizzing him about political affairs.
In June 1981, Neville D. McNerney led his granddaughter Christi on a ride in Prince George County. The retired Army infantry officer raised, trained and showed mules and donkeys as a hobby. And while the agricultural need had declined, McNerney’s miniature animals were popular for recreational use such as riding and show-ring competitions.
In April 1973, the annual dredging of the James River channel in Richmond was underway. The previous year’s flooding had deposited a great amount of silt, so Atkerson Dredging Co. would be busy. The project, which usually took a week, was expected to require more than a month.
In December 1957, firefighters battled a blaze at L.R. Brown & Co., a furniture store on Hull Street in South Richmond. The warehouse blaze destroyed many pieces intended for Christmas gifts.
In October 1976, architect Robert Winthrop held a brick believed to be from the 1811 Richmond Theatre fire. Winthrop was working on the restoration of historic Monumental Church on East Broad Street, which was built on the theater site as a memorial to those who died in the fire. The restoration work uncovered burned bricks and traces of the original theater wall.
In September 1954, presidents of four upper classes at Collegiate School in Henrico County gathered at the entrance to discuss school matters. From left were senior Bernice Spathey, junior Jane Durham, sophomore Dorothy Ewing and freshman Terry Bunnell.
In April 1963, Laura Vietor was recognized for her longtime nursing work at Sheltering Arms Hospital in Richmond. She was awarded the Elizabeth D. Gibble Volunteer of the Year Award for her many years of service, which included full-time volunteer nursing even after retiring at age 65.
In August 1966, Boy Scouts from Troop 644, sponsored by the Henry Fire Department in Mechanicsville, began a 58-mile James River voyage from Richmond to Jamestown aboard homemade rafts. Eleven boys and four adult supervisors participated in the five-day journey, with only paddles and tide to propel them. The 50-mile trip badge the boys earned would move them one step closer to becoming first-class Scouts.
In April 1971, Newton Ancarrow paused during a trek through Richmond’s new James River Park to examine a blossoming wildflower. Ancarrow, a crusader for cleaning the river, had started studying and photographing wildflowers five years earlier, seeing them as a tool to tell the story of pollution’s threat to the James. Passion and hobby intersected, and he had made more than 35,000 color slides of local wildflowers.
This March 1959 image shows the Richmond skyline from the south bank of the James River.
In June 1952, motorcyclists raced in the 10-Mile National Motorcycle Championship at the Atlantic Rural Exposition grounds in Henrico County. More than 4,000 spectators saw Bobby Hill of Columbus, Ohio, the nation’s top racer, ride bike No. 1 to victory in the 20-lap championship race.
In September 1952, Mrs. John Garland Pollard (center), associate director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, discussed plans for the museum’s membership campaign with Junior League volunteers Mrs. Edward Epps (left) and Mrs. Richmond Gray.
This November 1955 image shows the iconic Hofheimer building at 2816 W. Broad St. in the Scott’s Addition area of Richmond. The building, with a distinctive Mediterranean-style roof and minaret, was built in 1928 by Herold R. Hofheimer to house his business, Hofheimer Rug Cleaning & Storage Co.
In August 1967, morning commuters driving along Monument Avenue near the Henrico County and Richmond border welcomed a break in the clouds and some sunshine after a week of continuous rain.
This July 1964 image shows the James River from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the time, Lynchburg engineer W. Martin Johnson, a proponent of river development who was president of the James River Basin Association, was urging exploration of how industries could benefit from the river’s watershed of roughly 10,000 square miles in the state.
In June 1972, a farm in Columbia, a James River town in Fluvanna County, was largely submerged after the remnants of Hurricane Agnes brought some of the worst flooding in decades to many parts of the state. In Richmond, the swollen James peaked at 36.5 feet.
In July 1987, the Arby’s restaurant at 2311 W. Broad St. in Richmond was preparing to move next door into a new, larger building (left). The old space was to be converted into a Dairy Queen that would be owned by the same family that owned the Arby’s. Together, the restaurants would employ about 50 people
In July 1947, “The Soldier,” as many people called the patient of Central State Hospital near Petersburg, sat outside a sentry box he had built on the grounds. The psychiatric hospital dates to 1869, when a former Confederate facility known as Howard’s Grove Hospital was designated as a mental health facility for African-Americans.
In August 1963, June Hudnall (left), head nurse of the Medical College of Virginia Hospital’s Clinical Research Center, connected an artificial kidney to a patient who was a transplant candidate. Dr. John Bower and Barbara Hale are at back. The research center focused on patients warranting intensive study, including those slated to undergo rare operations.
In July 1941, children took a homemade cart for a spin along North 19th Street in Richmond. They built the toy in the spirit of “Gasless Sundays,” a means of conserving resources in a national defense drive ahead of U.S. entry into World War II. The cart was fashioned from an orange crate, old baby carriage wheels and scrap lumber.
In October 1970, the Richmond Scenic James Council led canoe and walking tours for about 200 people to highlight the natural beauty of the river. Here, Tom Brooks (front) and son Tom Jr. (rear) handled the paddling while Mrs. John Demitri and children Johnny and Lisa enjoyed the view.
In September 1962, Frederic S. Bocock of the Historic Richmond Foundation and Mrs. Cornelius F. Florman stood in front of one of four new plaques honoring patrons of Church Hill renovations in Richmond. Florman was the granddaughter of Mrs. Richard S. Reynolds; the plaque pictured cited Reynolds’ role in restoring Hardgrove Cottage on North 24th Street.
In July 1959, DuPont scientist Meredith Miller checked experimental cellophane coatings at the plant in Chesterfield County. The factory was developed in the late 1920s to produce rayon and began making cellophane in 1930, a material that used a similar production process.
In July 1965, employees of M&B Headwear Co. Inc. picketed outside the Richmond factory, one of the country’s largest suppliers of military caps. The strike involved about 300 members of the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union, which was seeking a roughly 15-cent-per-hour raise over two years for some workers. The union said the average hourly wage for the employees, most of whom were women, was $1.35.