Dignity, Respect, and No Doors on the Bathroom Stalls? Huh?

I attended a training session today in a neighboring agency where I had the uhh.. privilege of using the bathroom meant for the homeless clients. I opened the door to a room with 3 toilets, concrete dividers, no doors, and my good friend copping a squat.

Based on what must have been my look of incredulousness she said to me, "Yes. No doors. That's why when I was a client I NEVER used these restrooms. Imagine sitting on the toilet while 10 women are staring at you waiting for their turn."

I sat down beside my friend and we proceeded to have a rather surreal conversation with our pants around our ankles. I told her I hadn't peed in public since a drunken trip to Rocky Point, Mexico. She said when she was a client and asked about the lack of doors she was told if there were doors the clients would do drugs in there. Which is probably true but then again if they wish to do drugs anyhow they will, so it doesn't hold a lot of weight in my opinion. Plus you can do a sweep of the bathroom periodically.

What bothers me is this. We are a campus of agencies dedicated to treating our clients with dignity and respect. We surround them with holistic healing for the spirit and the soul in addition to food, shelter, and clothing. We offer art classes, GED classes, ballroom dance, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and a woman's group designed to help homeless women realize they still deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and that they are beautiful.

And then we make them pee in public. Ladies, imagine changing your tampon, or wiping your butt. All right there for all the other women to see while they wait for their turn. And remember, this isn't prison ladies, you are not being punished. Or maybe you are...

I'd say that is stripping away the very dignity and respect we just tried to restore. If people are treated as less than human, we should not be alarmed when they act less than human.

No doors on the bathroom stalls? How does that fit into the plan? Geez.

Not good people. Not good.

This should change. Soon.


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