Indiana Senate Bill 315–Employee Restroom Access: An Open Letter to Hoosier Legislators

Dear Representative,

It has come to my attention that Senate Bill 315 has not been granted a hearing by your committee. I am not in your district, but I am a resident of Allen County. While access to the restroom may not seem like a major issue, I can assure you that it is a vital part of leaving the home to take part in and enjoy this wonderful city we get to call home. If men, women, and children who suffer from Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis are to attend school, go to social activities, shop at local stores, or generally be allowed to participate in life outside of the home, businesses in Indiana need to allow them access to the restroom. I can understand the position that such a statement shouldn’t need to be legislated, but unfortunately it does. I have been turned away from numerous gas stations and store fronts that claim to either not have a restroom or state that it is for employee use only. While allowing a person who is unable to control his or her bowels to use the restroom should be a common courtesy, 16 other states (including the one I was born and raised in) have passed legislation similar to SB 315  (also known as Ally’s Law) to protect its residents. What I like about this particular version of the Employee Restroom Access bill is that it assists Hoosiers who have IBD, while taking multiple measures to protect Indiana business owners and their employees.

Restroom access (or a lack thereof) is at the center of how I plan every single day. Will there be a restroom nearby? Will the gas station employee turn me away? Will I make it? I ask myself and my husband these questions on a regular basis. Because of my condition, I’ve waited in line to use a restroom at a previous employer’s office… only to end up having to leave work to take a bath and change my clothes. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate. I have loving friends and family, supportive co-workers, and employers who work with me when I require additional time away from the office.

It’s when I’m out in public, making a road trip to Indy for a Pacers game, or shopping at a local store that I have to worry. I’ve been on my way to a basketball game with my husband for a night out, only to suddenly be in dire need of a restroom. Even knowing that he’s doing his best to help, I’ll find myself pleading to stop the car or take me to a nearby gas station. Except that doesn’t always help. One particular evening, we stopped at a gas station that refused me access to their facilities. Why? Because they’re “for paying customers only.” I may have been willing to purchase from this particular business if I hadn’t have had an accident that night. Once it’s too late, there’s no taking back of your dignity. IBD patients don’t always have control over their bowels and spending time begging for help only makes the situation worse. Can you imagine being a 29 year old woman out for an evening with her spouse and having an accident? It’s just about the most degrading thing I could ever imagine. Not only do you feel helpless, but your self-esteem certainly takes a hit after that too.

If you would please schedule a hearing for Senate Bill 315, I would greatly appreciate it and would be happy to discuss this issue further over the phone or in person.

If you live in Indiana, PLEASE pick up the phone. Call your representative and explain the importance of Senate Bill 315!

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