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CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - YMCA facilities in Chicago are now approving transgender locker rooms, allowing boys and girls to shower together per new guidelines.
YMCA of Metro Chicago posted a letter last week on their website with new policies affording every member the opportunity "to use the locker room and restroom they select based on their gender identity." They also sent this letter out to the 140,000 members of their 21 Chicagoland centers. This policy has already been implemented at other YMCAs, such as in Tacoma, Washington last year.
The letter, signed by Dick Malone, CEO of YMCA Metro Chicago, admitted showering or changing clothes next to someone of the opposite sex "can cause some to feel uncomfortable." Last week the Chicago Tribune reported a mother was unnerved at the site of what appeared to be a teenage male using the women's locker room.
YMCA employees investigated the incident after being alerted by the upset mother. The YMCA staff later informed the mother that the teenager was transgender and therefore had a right to use the women's facilities.
Rae Ulrich, senior vice president of marketing for the YMCA of Metro Chicago made the following statement: "From (the mother's) perspective, there was a man in the locker room. But there wasn't. There was a transgender individual in the locker room."
Michelle Larue, senior vice president of marketing with the Pierce and Kitsap YMCA, told KTTH that if anyone feels uncomfortable showering and changing clothes alongside a member of the opposite sex, they can use one of YMCA's private single-stall rooms.
YMCA's leadership team is reportedly working with LGBT leaders. Staff from the YMCA are being trained by members of the LGBT community to refer to patrons by the name and pronoun they desire, regardless of any sex listed on identification.
In last week's letter containing the transgender guidelines, Malone further admitted that allowing men into women's locker rooms "can raise questions about safety."
In a live interview, Todd Herman of KTTH asked Larue, "Father to mother, Michelle, should a 15-year-old girl feel OK with the possibility that she might shower next to someone who is biologically male?"
Larue responded, "Everyone has a different opinion on that."
There are many mothers concerned about how this issue will impact the physical, psychological and spiritual welfare of their daughters. One such mother, Autumn Bennett, told Q13 News she's concerned criminals will abuse the policy by posing as transgender to gain access.
"This, for me, has nothing to do with discrimination against any other sort of groups," Bennett remarked. "It has everything to do with the safety of children. If you can't control who can go into the bathroom, then how can you know who's safe?"
Meanwhile, news accounts are repeatedly surfacing of men using "gender identity" as a plow to gain access to women's facilities for nefarious purposes.