CHICAGO — A number of YMCA locations in the Chicago area have been instructed to follow new guidelines that permit boys who identify as girls to use the girls’ locker room, and vice versa.
The Chicago Tribune reports that a mother at one of the locations recently approached staff after she saw a teenage boy using the girls’ locker room, but employees later learned that the teen identified as transgender and therefore his presence was permitted.
“From [the mother’s] perspective, there was a man in the locker room,” Rae Ulrich, senior vice president of marketing for the YMCA of Metro Chicago, told the outlet. “But there wasn’t. There was a transgender individual in the locker room.”
The situation and others resulted in the organization crafting a letter outlining that members are free to use the facilities that correspond with their “gender identity.” The notation is also posted on the YMCA of Metro Chicago website.
“[T]he Y … supports every member having the opportunity to use the locker room and restroom they select based on their gender identity, or private facilities–as available–if that is their preference. Where not yet available, we are in the process of adding them,” the letter, signed by President Dick Malone, reads.
“We recognize our commitment in support of the rights of all individuals can cause some to feel uncomfortable and can raise concerns about safety. … Let me be clear: the expanded inclusion policy doesn’t give anyone a new opportunity to behave inappropriately,” it states. “Again, it’s our goal for all members to thrive at the Y, and this is why we will do our best to support each of you while maintaining an environment that reflects the inclusive values we share.”
The correspondence was sent to the YMCA’s 140,000 members at its more than 20 Chicagoland centers. The Chicago Tribune also notes that employees are expected to refer to members by their preferred name and pronoun. Staff members are receiving homosexual and transgender sensitivity training from local advocacy groups, including one at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
However, while some are applauding the move as one of inclusivity, others are expressing deep concern, especially considering that the YMCA, the Young Men’s Christian Association, was founded upon biblical values.
“It is appalling that a once-Christian organization like the YMCA has now become so morally bankrupt that it has adopted such a misguided policy,” Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president for the American Family Association, told reporters. “It is clear not only from the Bible but nature itself that there are only two genders: male and female. The secularist rush to discard the binary nature of humanity is proof that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.”
The YMCA website outlines that it was founded in 1844 by London resident George Williams to be “a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.” Today, the YMCA’s mission is “[t]o put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”
Like Chicago, other YMCA locations have also announced changes to their restroom and locker room use policies to accommodate “transgendered” members, such as those in the Seattle/Silverdale/Puyallup, Washington area.