A few months ago, before Trump clinched the nomination, before the tragedy in Orlando, and before Pokemon GO consumed our lives, the world was debating whether or not transgender individuals should be allowed to choose which bathroom they feel comfortable using. Naturally, the world had strong opinions. And while it may not be dominating headlines at the moment, there’s still an interesting side to the debate that I haven’t really seen mentioned anywhere.
What about all the single dads?
After all, women aren’t the only ones who need to bring girls to the bathroom when out in public. At the time, I saw a father comment on an article about the bathroom issue, describing how he has had the cops called on him for waiting outside the door for his daughter using the restroom and also for trying to give her space in the bra department without letting her out of his sight. Up until then, I will admit, it never occurred to me how fathers go out alone in public with their daughters and navigate the bathroom dance, even though I have two daughters and a husband myself.
But now, I have been enlightened.
Philippe Morgese, father to nine-year-old Emma, who became Internet famous for teaching parents how to style their daughter’s hair, shared how difficult it can be to navigate this issue as a single dad.
“‘Daddy, I need to use the bathroom!’ When I hear those words away from home, I begin to panic,” Morgese relates. “Immediately I start scanning my environment. I have three choices: I let my daughter use the woman’s bathroom by herself, I bring her into the men’s bathroom with me, or she has to hold it until we get home. All have their ups and downs, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent to go through this.”
Morgese explains that if it’s available, he will opt for the family restroom.
“At least in there, our odds of it being clean are better,” he notes. “Most places don’t cater to families, and I understand why. The square footage is valuable and the cost of an extra bathroom doesn’t make sense.”
At nine years old however, Emma is usually fine to use the restroom alone. Which then brings us to the interesting situation — the very one many people fear — a six-foot tall, 260-pound man waiting outside of the women’s bathroom door.
“I can see the look in the eyes of women that approach the bathroom,” Morgese says. “They scan me with their eyes and evaluate my threat level, as I do the same to them. After all, they are about to go into the same bathroom my daughter is in.”
When it comes to his daughter’s safety, Morgese says he has no qualms about doing what he has to do to keep his daughter safe.
“Basically, I don’t care about formalities when it comes to this,” he explains. “I’m the guy that holds the bathroom door open, while Emma runs in to scan the women’s bathroom for other people. If she isn’t out after a minute, I start calling for her.”
Sometimes, he will ask a woman who is entering the bathroom to check on his daughter, which serves the dual purpose of letting the woman know he has no ill intent — and it helps keep Emma safe.
“I hate to think of myself as an overprotective parent, [and] maybe I am, [but] some risks aren’t worth taking,” he explains.
In other situations, Morgese has no choice except to ask Emma to hold it or to take her into the men’s bathroom, which is never ideal.
“It’s awkward bringing a nine-year-old girl in the men’s room with me. At what age is it no longer OK? At what age will Emma no longer feel comfortable? Those are the kinds of things I consider.”
While not all men standing outside a women’s bathroom are waiting for their daughters, some of them are. And though there are no easy answers that seem to make everyone involved comfortable, it’s important for us all to understand and acknowledge that sometimes there’s more going on than meets the eye.More On