With the growing debate on bathroom laws in the U.S., a New York City pastor is proposing the construction of all-inclusive restrooms that would accommodate everyone in malls, schools and other places frequented by the public.
Ryan Phipps of the Forefront Church in Manhattan says, "I've had about as much as I can take of the 'anti-transgender-people-in-bathrooms' discussion."
"We have dressing rooms in just about every major clothing store that are not gender segregated. Why can't we have bathrooms be the very same?" he writes on the Open Convergence blog.
He says his restroom plan will suit the needs "of all human beings, whether they be gay, straight, transgender, man, woman, child, handicapped, you name it."
Under his proposal, the restroom will have fully separated stalls, each with its own toilet, sink, mirror, trash can, hand dryer and diaper changing station.
He says security cameras will be installed to monitor people entering and exiting the facility for safety reasons but these will not see anything happening in each stall.
The stalls will have walls and doors from floor to ceiling to protect the privacy of the user.
"By making one bathroom that all people can use, available space is doubled by the elimination of the other gender-separated space. In addition, eliminating the sinks outside the stalls creates space for them inside each stall," he explains.
Phipps said his proposal has much more to do with faith.
"The church should be at the very forefront of ideas that promote the dignity, worth, and well-being of all people, demolishing debates and discussions that don't get to the real subject at hand. The subject is people, not principle," he says.
He says there are practical ways to serve everyone, but it will never surface if everyone is bickering over principle.
"There are ways for everyone to have a place, whether that is in a dressing room, a bathroom, or even a church, but we must take the high road in our thinking. I think the Apostle Paul said it well," he says.
The pastor tells Christians to ask themselves: "Are you doing this? Are you demolishing arguments and pretension that keep people from knowing God? Are you taking your thoughts captive to the way of Jesus, who didn't turn people away, but who found a way to welcome them?"