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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Lesbians in locker rooms, oh my! (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Lesbians in locker rooms, oh my!
Dzuunmod
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So, a 14-year old lesbian was banned from her school's change room, and banned from gym class altogether, in the U.S. state of California - quirkily enough, in a town called Banning.

The girl, who was 14 at the time, has filed a civil rights suit. She claims she felt humiliated, when she was sent to the principal's office for a week, when her classmates went to gym class. She is seeking unspecified compensation.

Well, at first, I figured she was just trying to right this wrong, but then I got to the bottom of the article and saw that she was seeking money. I'm a little disappointed in that. No amount of money is going to change this girl's life back to how it was. I imagine she'll have to switch schools (if she hasn't already), and money's not going to make that any easier.

Beyond all that, though, what's the solution to these sorts of issues? Change/washrooms that are specific to sexual orientation? Change/washrooms that aren't specific at all?

That's what I'd be in favour of, though I'm sure the transition period would be a very, very rocky one, with numerous sexual harassment and assault cases resulting.

Here's an article about students in the Canadian province of British Columbia who were pushing for integrated washrooms on campus last summer. I don't know if the movement got anywhere...

What do you think?

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"Yes I can!"
-Chicago, Saturday in the Park (Yeah, yeah. Shut up.)


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Heather
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A personal observation to this sort of thing from me.

I've spent time in locker rooms for mixed groups of women in gyms and spas.

I've also spent time in locker rooms for mixed groups of women in primarily LESBIAN gyms and spas.

Guess which ones I've noticed I get looked over or checked out more in?

(Hint: the former.)

My guess is that's because in more lesbian communities, we know full well orientation has nada to do with looking, and that even if we do look, we can look for a LOTTA different reasons and that looking is all okay. And since most of us who use locker rooms just want to get in and out like the next guy, it's a bit of a non-issue to begin with.

People look at each other. People sometimes look at each other with sexual interest. They do this in locker rooms, on the streets, in business meetings, in classrooms, in airplanes, in movie theaters, in doctors offices. Looking at someone never harmed a soul, and we can't, with any degree of accuracy whatsoever, decide who might look at who in what way based on their sexual orientation or identity (unless that identity involves outright voyeurism, in which case we probably can).

I hate to be simplistic, but that's the answer, period. You can ban people from rooms and spaces all you like, but since the problem doesn't lie with who you're banning, but with the fallacious assumptions being made by others... feh.

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Heather Corinna
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Sunset_Rose
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Once again, Mizz Scarlet hits the nail on the head.
I would be disgusted and humiliated if I was kept out of the changing rooms because of my orientation, and I think it is an injustice that this girl had to suffer thier prejudice.
I live for the time when articles like these end.

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~jess~
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see people have the idea that all gay guys look at all guys and lesbians look at all girls. but then think about it, not all straight guys "check out" all girls that they see and not all straight girls "check out" all the guys they see.

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my new world


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Bobolink
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Lawsuits have two main purposes.

1. To obtain monetary compensation for pain (physical or mental) that the plaintif has suffered.

2. To discourage unnaceptable behavior on the part of the accused. If the school board in Banning realize that their behavior is both unaceptable and expensive they may wish to reconsider such harsh and unjust actions.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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MarvellousPurple
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I'm still in favor of single-sex locker rooms (bathrooms, changing rooms, etc.) Honestly, I don't think lesbians check out women in places of general nudity any more than straight women do. My roommate at college is a lesbian, as are most of her friends, and i'm naked *all the time*. Should they be rooming with males? no, that would be kind of silly. we still have the same anatomy and the same 'girl' issues such as a period, PMS, having breasts, etc.
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Pumpkin_Pie
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I was unofficially banned from the changing rooms in my school, by the girls in my class..

If I walked in, it was like Moses parting the red sea, if the red sea had been a crowd of screaming girly whirls...


It was humiliating, and to be honest, I wasn't checking them out.

I just wanted to get my tracksuit on and get out and play some sport, and have some fun.

If this girl was officially banned, then I say she should hang them out to dry, and money these days is often the only way to make people sit up and pay attention.

I back her completely.


(And btw, if the girls in my class get hysterical now, which they rarely do, they've grown up a lot, I just say: "Sorry love, you're really not my type." The look on their faces when they don't know whether to be relieved or offended is priceless!)


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youcancallmepunk
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I was also un-offically banned from my high school locker room by the girls in the class.

For some reason a rumor was spread that I was a lesbian and some how the whispers were keep hidden from me. I walked into the locker room one day and I swear some girls were running to the restroom stalls (then it dawned on me.) After suffering emotional outburst (a combination of crying and cursing.) I finally got the balls to say or actually do something about it.

I worked on the school newspaper and wrote a gutter piece (the center spread, which is the biggest place in the paper) about hate towards GLBT students in high schools. That actually won me state-wide awards.

Okay back onto what that girl being officially banned:

Though money will never help her overcome the scars she suffered, it can help her go to a private school (because no-doubt everyone knows who she is in her town) where she can start over once again and won't be alienated. So I back her fully in her quest to make them pay (literally) and publicly apologize for their actoins.


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roziline
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i read the cnn article and although i live in the UK wud there be a "National Center for Lesbian Rights" for us like there is in the US?

I think that as posters have said already, Ashly Massey won't be able to fix any mental scars wth the money but yes, making people pay for their actions often gets the point across. it's unjust that they took away her freedom and choice so i hope she is victorious in her case


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Sapp
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Do you think my school should allow me (a guy) in the girl's locker room? Of course not. The vast majority would be very uncomfortable with me present - just like they'd be uncomfortable with a lesbian present.

I don't know about you guys, but most people are uncomfortable with people sexually attracted to your sex getting an eyeful. This is the whole purpose of segregated locker rooms.


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Beppie
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Sapp, you seem rather preoccupied by what might make heterosexual women uncomfortable, but I have no doubt that given the levels of homophobia in western societies, the locker room experience is far more uncomfortable for the girl who does not have a straight sexual orientation.

If ANYONE makes an inappropriate remark, ie, sexually harrassing, in a locker room, only then should their right to get changed there be challenged. However, someone should not be denied access to an area of a school simply based on sexual orientation.

As for segregation in general- I think we need to rethink why we do it. I tend to believe that if people saw each other's bodies as normal and natural, there would be a lot less unnecessary sexualisation of body parts- such sexualisation would only occur within an appropriate context.


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Sapp
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quote:
Sapp, you seem rather preoccupied by what might make heterosexual women uncomfortable, but I have no doubt that given the levels of homophobia in western societies, the locker room experience is far more uncomfortable for the girl who does not have a straight sexual orientation.

I fail to understand how the fact that the homosexual girl is uncomfortable makes it perfectly ok for her to make the rest of the girls uncomfortable. It just goes to further my point - lesbians in locker rooms is a bad idea.

quote:
If ANYONE makes an inappropriate remark, ie, sexually harrassing, in a locker room, only then should their right to get changed there be challenged. However, someone should not be denied access to an area of a school simply based on sexual orientation.

The whole purpose of segregated locker rooms are so that people can change/shower/etc comfortably. Most people are uncomfortable getting naked in front of people who are sexually attracted to them. Again, do you think I (a guy) should be allowed to look at all the girls while they're showering?

quote:
As for segregation in general- I think we need to rethink why we do it. I tend to believe that if people saw each other's bodies as normal and natural, there would be a lot less unnecessary sexualisation of body parts- such sexualisation would only occur within an appropriate context.

Unified locker rooms as we know them now are never going to happen. Teenage guys and girls simply can't be naked together. Sure, a very tiny minority might actually enjoy showing off their bodies to the opposite sex, and a few might not mind the stares. However, the vast majority (read: the deciding voice) would be extremely uncomfortable, self concious, embarrassed, etc. and simply miserable changing/showering/etc in front of the opposite sex.


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Heather
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Sapp, have a news flash, on me.

The MAJORITY of human beinngs are neither strictly heterosexual nor homosexual, but rather between a 1 and a 5 on the Kinsey Scale, meaning nearly ALL people have SOME same-sex attraction.

So, what's that mean? It means that no matter where you are, whether you're clothed or unclothed, and no matter how much segregation anyone tries, it's pretty likely that someone is bound to look at a person farily regularly with some sexual or aesthetic interest. Only real solution to that is to have one-person locker rooms. Ain't likely, save in one scenario which on my planet, we call using your own shower at home.

And for some folks who are self-conscious, shy or who just feel uncomfy in front of other people naked or half-dressed, that might be the perfect option.

Lastly, you might want to consider your cultural bias. In numerous cultures, there are, in fact, plenty of scenarios where we don't have the sort of gender segregation or attitudes about nudity equaling sexuality that we do here. You can say it's never going to happpen, but the fact of the matter is that it can, it has, and it does, and even in this culture, this sort of segregation didn't even happen that much (especially outside of VERY upper-class places) until the last 100 or so years, primarily coming to be during the Victorian era, and the concern was far less about comfort than it was about cultural notions of what was proper and modest.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Beppie
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If a heterosexual girl feels uncomfortable simply being in the presence of a lesbian who is not harrassing her in any way, it is her homophobia at work. The heterosexual girl is responsible for her own homophobia, and a lesbian/bisexual girl should not be hurt because of this. However, if a lesbian girl is made to feel uncomfortable because of her sexual orientation, then that is something coming from other people. Again, just because someone is in the minority (edited to add that as Miz Scarlet says, bisexuality probably isn't the minority anyway- although even if it was, it wouldn't change anything as far as this argument is concerned), it does not provide an excuse for denying them the same facilities in a school as everyone else.

My point about unsegregated locker rooms is that if they became the norm, it wouldn't become a haven of "showing off" sexually- bodies would simply be seen as bodies. I agree that as our culture is at the moment it would make a lot of people uncomfortable, but that is because the attitude towards sex and naked bodies in our culture is something that really needs to change.

[This message has been edited by Beppie (edited 01-05-2003).]


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britt0285
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My father is homosexual and this has lead to a lot of exposure for me that maybe a lot of people don't get. His bestfriend is also a lesbian and I love both of them very much. I would feel awful if either of them were ever discrimnated on based upon their sexual orientation. Chances are that no matter your sexual orientation you aren't going to be attracted to someone who would ridicule or discrimnate against you which seems to be what is happening in this case. I believe that the school system behind this should be reprimanded for singling out this girl. Imagine how you would feel if you were punished because you were different or had different opinions.
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Milke
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As I see it, lesbians in general shouldn't be allowed to be around other women, because it might make the latter group uncomfortable. Also, I'd like to see straight guys kept away from women too, because you know the sort of nonsense they like to get up to. Really, anyone who's got the potential to be sexual at all is a risk and should be put away for good.

I'm curious why it's assumed that straight women aren't really sexual beings, and need to be protected from those who are. I also wonder why so many people who fear queer men or women looking at them assume that ALL gay men or women are attracted to EVERYONE of their gender. I don't assume all straight guys want my body, so why would all lesbians?

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I want a boy for my birthday . . .


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Sapp
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quote:
So, what's that mean? It means that no matter where you are, whether you're clothed or unclothed, and no matter how much segregation anyone tries, it's pretty likely that someone is bound to look at a person farily regularly with some sexual or aesthetic interest. Only real solution to that is to have one-person locker rooms. Ain't likely, save in one scenario which on my planet, we call using your own shower at home.

Um... So you're saying that because there are always a few people who will check you out, we might as well through naked girls and guys together in the same locker room? I think you're missing the point. True, the problem can never be 100% solved. That doesn't mean that it can't be helped. Improving conditions by banning blatant homosexuals is a good start.
quote:
Lastly, you might want to consider your cultural bias. In numerous cultures, there are, in fact, plenty of scenarios where we don't have the sort of gender segregation or attitudes about nudity equaling sexuality that we do here. You can say it's never going to happpen, but the fact of the matter is that it can, it has, and it does, and even in this culture, this sort of segregation didn't even happen that much (especially outside of VERY upper-class places) until the last 100 or so years, primarily coming to be during the Victorian era, and the concern was far less about comfort than it was about cultural notions of what was proper and modest.

Heh. Sorry, but I'm not going to just throw my culture out the window. Good luck reeducating the majority of the US - good luck teaching young teenage girls that they're going to have to shower with the varsity football team.

I'd be interested in hearing about these "numerous cultures" where schools make teens of both sexes shower together.


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Sapp
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quote:
If a heterosexual girl feels uncomfortable simply being in the presence of a lesbian who is not harrassing her in any way, it is her homophobia at work.

Uh, and if a girl is uncomfortable taking a shower in front of a guy, it's her "heterophobia" at work? No.

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Sapp
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quote:
As I see it, lesbians in general shouldn't be allowed to be around other women, because it might make the latter group uncomfortable. Also, I'd like to see straight guys kept away from women too, because you know the sort of nonsense they like to get up to. Really, anyone who's got the potential to be sexual at all is a risk and should be put away for good.

I'm not sure how you correlate lesbians being around women in general with lesbians being allowed to watch straight women naked.

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Heather
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...mind explaining then, what we do about the het-identified women watching the other het-identified women? Or the bi-women watching the bi-women? Or the het-identified women watching the lesbians?

Or in your world of "blatant" sexuality, do only certain groups get shut out because of the rampant danger of their possible glances?

And for the record, have you say, been a woman in a locker room and been able to pick out who is and who isn't a lesbian on sight seen? Or whose glance is sexual and whose merely curious?

For that matter, what's your stake in what goes on in women's locker rooms at all? Because based on what you're saying, you have as little business being in them in any way as we "blatant" homosexuals do.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Sapp
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quote:
...mind explaining then, what we do about the het-identified women watching the other het-identified women? Or the bi-women watching the bi-women? Or the het-identified women watching the lesbians?

In my school if some guy was staring at someone else we'd call him a queer pervert and give him the boot.

Maybe he's 43.62% homosexual, maybe he's "experimenting with his sexuality", maybe he's just curious. Doesn't matter - he's out.

quote:
For that matter, what's your stake in what goes on in women's locker rooms at all? Because based on what you're saying, you have as little business being in them in any way as we "blatant" homosexuals do.

Oh, because I'm a guy I can't comment on this issue? I don't think my brain is so small that I can't make a parallel between each sex's locker rooms.

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logic_grrl
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quote:
In my school if some guy was staring at someone else we'd call him a queer pervert and give him the boot.

Maybe he's 43.62% homosexual, maybe he's "experimenting with his sexuality", maybe he's just curious. Doesn't matter - he's out.


Um, so now you seem to be saying that it's upsetting to have anyone look at you when you're naked, whatever their actual orientation?

In that case, the only solutions are either allowing everyone to change in private, or agreeing that no-one (whatever their orientation) should "stare" at anyone else in a voyeuristic manner (although how you define and enforce that might be tricky).

But obviously, if the kids at your school are so insecure and homophobic that they label anyone who they think is looking at anyone else a "queer pervert", then segregating by actual sexual orientation wouldn't help anyway.


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herecomestheson
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I think Sapp is also forgetting that school systems cannot "give the boot" to any student based on their sexuality. From reading your previous entries Sapp, I have come to the conclusion that you have trouble accepting the fact that there are homosexuals in the world, as well as your school.
"In my school if some guy was staring at someone else we'd call him a queer pervert and give him the boot.
Maybe he's 43.62% homosexual, maybe he's "experimenting with his sexuality", maybe he's just curious. Doesn't matter he's out"
Besides, a boy looking at you in the locker room could mean many things: maybe he wants to steal something from you, maybe he dislikes you, maybe he thinks the chain you're wearing around your neck is cool. Since you'd call someone a "queer pervert" for glancing at you, not to mention imply that "giving the boot" to homosexuals is acceptable, than I have to come to the conclusion that you must be homophobic.
Many people do not like homosexuals but that doesn’t mean you can ban them from school locker rooms. And this situation we're talking about is all based upon the MOVEMENT OF SOMEONE'S EYES.

If they WERE homosexual how does that not give them the right to be in a change room? The way I see it it's no different than being in a swimming pool. It's a matter of respect for your fellow human. If someone were to sexually harass you that would be a different point, but the snap judgements you're making are not sensible.


[This message has been edited by herecomestheson (edited 01-05-2003).]


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LilBlueSmurf
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Could it be that people just aren't fully comfortable w/ their bodies ... And that this has nothing to do w/ the sexual orientation of whoever was looking at them. I think it's a good possibility. At one point, i'm sure all of us were uncomfortable w/ their bodies. It's part of growing up.

And that's okay ... But by coping out and calling whoever stole a look at you (or someone) gay/lesbian/bi is ridiculous. Unless you're been looking at your feet the whole time you're getting changed, you've probably seen someone elses bits too. And ya know what? It's a body. Looking does no harm.

If you're (or they're, or whatever) that uncomfortable w/ someone seeing your body, change in a stall or something ... quit blaming other people for your insecurities.

[This message has been edited by LilBlueSmurf (edited 01-05-2003).]


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Sapp
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quote:
Um, so now you seem to be saying that it's upsetting to have anyone look at you when you're naked, whatever their actual orientation?

Yes. I'm not sure what culture you're from, but in the US, this is the norm. Just take a look at the outrage that the recent "up skirt photos legalized" thread caused.
quote:
In that case, the only solutions are either allowing everyone to change in private, or agreeing that no-one (whatever their orientation) should "stare" at anyone else in a voyeuristic manner (although how you define and enforce that might be tricky).

It's pretty simple. Keep your eyes to yourself.
quote:
But obviously, if the kids at your school are so insecure and homophobic that they label anyone who they think is looking at anyone else a "queer pervert", then segregating by actual sexual orientation wouldn't help anyway.

It works well, actually. The small gay community has the decency to change in private. No one stares at anyone else.

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logic_grrl
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quote:
Um, so now you seem to be saying that it's upsetting to have anyone
look at you when you're naked, whatever their actual orientation?

Yes.


In that case, then, the sexual orientation of the person looking is irrelevant, isn't it?

quote:
It's pretty simple. Keep your eyes to yourself.

Which, again, has nothing at all to do with sexual orientation - gay, lesbian and bi people have no more trouble "keeping their eyes to themselves" than anyone else does.

quote:
It works well, actually. The small gay community has the decency to change in private. No one stares at anyone else.

So, uh, it "works well" apart from the fact that a significant minority of people have been harrassed out of the locker rooms by being insulted and "given the boot"?

You know, that level of bullying, harassment and discrimination seems like a pretty high price to pay in order to protect a bunch of insecure heterosexual kids from the idea that a gay or bisexual kid might possibly glance in their direction.


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Sapp
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quote:
In that case, then, the sexual orientation of the person looking is irrelevant, isn't it?

No, the amount of glances is disproportionately large from gay people. Furthermore, they're often lustful rather than simply curious which is more discomforting. If I was changing in the girl's locker room, for example, I would be getting an eyeful. The same goes for a gay guy in a guy's locker room. You simply can't help it.

Gay guys know this, and sometimes have the courtesy to change elsewhere. Unfortunately some try the wolf in sheep's clothing strategy and need the boot. These guys can often be identified and weeded out in the shower, if you can imagine. It's not easy for guys to hide their excitement.


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Milke
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So, when in the dressing room you keep an eye open for hard-ons and respond by ostracizing the offending parties? Knowing that teen guys can get erections for no good reason at all, that most queer young guys would rather hide their orientation than risk getting hurt for it, and that grown-up, civilised men do not handle situations that bother them with cruelty and stupidity, you still choose this route? Do you think that perhaps your behaviour far outweighs the ills you believe you're responding to?

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Milke, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP

I want a boy for my birthday . . .


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LilBlueSmurf
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Member # 1207

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I think you may have missed the point Milke made earlier ... Not every heterosexual girl is going to find you attractive purely b/c you have a penis. It does not work like that.

You're making huge generalizations in assuming that gay males looking at you are going to be turned on. We're not fond of generalizations here ... Not everyone is the same, and no matter what their sexual orientation, not everyone is going to be turned on by just looking at you.

I do not see other guys changing in another room as a courtesy to you ... They're likely scared of facing the harassment otherwise. So really, these people don't agree w/ you, but you're bullying them into playing the game your way.

Really, i hope you find yourself in a situation like this someday ... where you're the minority. It's not a fun place to be, and a little tolerance from the 'majority' would go a long way.


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Sapp
Neophyte
Member # 11312

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quote:
So, when in the dressing room you keep an eye open for hard-ons and respond by ostracizing the offending parties? Knowing that teen guys can get erections for no good reason at all, ....

You're right that erections alone are not evidence enough for an accusation, but they're a good start.

quote:
Do you think that perhaps your behaviour far outweighs the ills you believe you're responding to?

I think it makes sense. If you're unable to change in a locker room without examining other people, you should change in private - not with the rest of the guys. Sometimes gay guys try to pull the wolf in sheeps clothing maneuver and they need the boot. It's the equivalent of a guy dressing up like a girl and sneaking into the girl's locker room. Totally unacceptable.

Better one person being slightly inconvenienced than twenty people being very uncomfortable.


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Sapp
Neophyte
Member # 11312

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quote:
You're making huge generalizations in assuming that gay males looking at you are going to be turned on. We're not fond of generalizations here ... Not everyone is the same, and no matter what their sexual orientation, not everyone is going to be turned on by just looking at you.

I'm not making any generalizations. There are plenty of guys in the locker rooms that don't stare at me. Maybe some of them are even gay. I am fine with them. They may use the locker room. Some guys can't keep their eyes to themselves. They are usually gay and must be given the boot.

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herecomestheson
Activist
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You need to seriously examine how you function as a human being. I think people have been very tolerant with your homophobic posturing on this board.

"Sometimes gay guys try to pull the wolf in sheeps clothing maneuver and they need the boot."

You my friend ARE making generalizations despite your claim that you're not.
Ignorant people such as yourself who can't fathom the thought that homosexuals should get equal rights in the locker room are just another nuisance that makes life difficult for homosexuals.

"You're right that erections alone are not evidence enough for an accusation, but they're a good start"

How do you think gay people on this site feel? I think you're just trying to be overly-insensitive since you've already stated your views.

What I personally think is that a homosexual in the locker room is too much for you to take because it clashes with YOUR sexual preference, and if that is the case then maybe you should update your views to that of the 21st Century. From the posts of yours that I've read you seem to lack any basic human decency. Also, your explanations are incoherent and confusing. You're trying to make it seem as if you're being reasonable but the fact remains that you think heterosexuals are more entitled to the locker room then other sexual preferences, "They are usually gay and must be given the boot." Grow up.

[This message has been edited by herecomestheson (edited 01-06-2003).]


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britt0285
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I agree with HereComesTheSun, and I believe that pulling out this one specific girl is unfair, and humiliating. And I don't understand why It is such a big deal if she is a lesbian, most young people are still discovering their sexuality and if she has same sex tendencys she is probably a little uncomfortable herself and would not act on any feelings in order to make others feel uncomfortable.
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logic_grrl
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 8067

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quote:
These guys can often be identified and weeded out in the shower, if you can imagine. It's not easy for guys to hide their excitement.

So in other words, it's you and your heterosexual friends who are busy checking out other guys' penises just in case they get an erection?

How does that fit with "keeping your eyes to yourself"?


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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FYI, an excellent, candid and really interesting interview with Ashly and her mother was recently in the LA Weekly, here: http://www.laweekly.com/ink/03/08/news-lewis.php

I have reopened this discussion, so for the record (and per our guidelines), any user who launches into homophobic tirades or starts using language like calling those of us who are queer "perverts" or the like is getting the ax straightaway, no questions asked.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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