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Handout 5: Privilege Scenario 3
This scenario is set at a Unitarian Universalist congregation. For the first time ever, the congregation is hosting a youth conference with the theme of "Homelessness and LGBTQ Youth." The majority of the attendees, congregational leaders, and guest workshop leaders are youth. There are also adults in attendance to support the youth. As this youth conference takes place, a group of adults from the congregation who are not connected to the conference are meeting in the congregation's library. The scenario presents an interaction that includes one of the guest presenters, a conference attendee who is a youth, and an adult attending the meeting in the library.
- Danielle, a young Black lesbian who is attending the conference
- Myles, a young mixed-race transgender man who is a conference presenter
- John, an older White cisgender man who is attending the meeting in the library ("Cisgender" refers to people who are not trans or gender-variant—in other words, people whose gender identities, presentations, and behavior "match" the sex they were assigned at birth.)
Danielle: Thank you so much for coming to the youth conference, Myles.
Myles: I'm glad you invited me. I so rarely get to be around other young people and talk about my experience as a transgender man.
Danielle: We should be heading upstairs soon. Do you need anything before we do?
Myles: I'd like some water, and I need to go to the bathroom,
Danielle and Myles enter the kitchen to get the water. Danielle then shows Myles where the bathrooms are. There is a women's room, a men's room, and a single-stall, handicap-accessible bathroom. Someone is in the single-stall bathroom.
Danielle: The men's bathroom also has a single stall.
Myles: Thanks, I'll use that one.
As Myles turns to enter the men's room, John is coming out of the men's room and grabs the doorknob to prevent Myles from entering.
John: Excuse me, young lady, there is a women's room.
Myles: Sir, I'm not a lady, and I need to use the restroom.
John: That's why there is a women's bathroom. You can't use this restroom.
Danielle: Sir, Myles needs to go to the bathroom, and he isn't a woman. Myles is a man.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
John leaves the bathrooms to return to his meeting. Myles finishes using the restroom. Danielle is waiting for him outside.
Danielle: I'm so sorry about that, Myles. I can't believe that happened. Some members of our congregation are having a meeting in the library—he isn't part of the conference.
Myles: Yeah, I don't know what his problem was, but it happens all the time. In fact, what just happened is what I was going to talk with the other youth about. There is a law in this city that allows trans folks to use whatever bathroom they choose. It's important for queer youth to know about this, as they are often stopped by the police.
Danielle: Is there anything I can do?
Myles: Nope. Let's get upstairs. I'm ready to speak.
SCENARIO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Who has privilege to access the restroom(s) of their choice in the scenario? Why does that person have privilege? How did they use their privilege?
2. What role (if any) did race or ethnicity play in who had privilege? What role (if any) did age play in who had privilege?
3. Who played the role of an ally in the story? What is the role of an ally? When have you had the opportunity to act as an ally?
4. Why did John say "Yeah, yeah, yeah" and walk away? When have you acted or experienced someone acting in a similarly dismissive way?
5. What did individuals do in this scenario that helped name, reframe, or dismantle systems of privilege and oppression? What else might they have done?
6. What Unitarian Universalist values and Principles are helpful in responding to situations like this?
(Written by India McKnight, a Black Unitarian Universalist. )