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Shades of discrimination

Businesses should have a right to choose who they serve as long as they do not discriminate against a person’s race, gender or sexuality.

The question of whether the government should allow  businesses to pick whom they provide service to has been highly debated recently. Indiana’s governor signing Senate Bill 101 and Planet Fitness’s transgender concerns have intensified the deliberation, dividing the country into two different viewpoints.

Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion. “If I thought it legalized discrimination, I would have vetoed it,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; however, some local businesses in Indiana have rejected customers who do not fall in line with the owner’s religion. The website Eater informs that Memories Pizza is Indiana’s first restaurant to deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Contrary to the Indiana ruling, Planet Fitness supports transgender people and disfavors those who oppose them.

A woman lost her Planet Fitness membership because of the way she complained about a transgender woman in the women’s locker room. “Our gender identity nondiscrimination policy states members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity,” said McCall Gosselin, director of public relations at Planet Fitness Corporate, to explain the woman’s  membership cancellation.

An owner takes pride in his or her business and desires for it to be successful, so as an owner, he or she should be allowed to refuse service to customers who cause disruption or trouble in the owner’s store. This is a reasonable reason for customers to be refused service. However, refusing service due to reasons of race, gender or sexuality are not appropriate reasons to refuse service.

Another reason businesses decline service to clients is because a client’s rowdy behavior may be disruptive or threatening to the business’s employees or customers.

For example, if a group of people came into a quiet coffee shop yelling vulgar terms and acting unruly, not only will the staff feel unproductive, but the other customers’ safety is also at risk.

However, the problem with refusing service to people arises when businesses go too far and begin to discriminate against others’ lifestyles.

“I do believe businesses have the right to choose who they serve in their establishments, because some people do build their businesses from the ground up,” said junior Shakira Thomas. “As far as how far they go, I would say as long as they do not dehumanize someone, because they are human regardless of whether you like their lifestyle choices or not.”

A person’s race or gender does not cause commotion in a business, so refusing to provide service solely on this basis is wrong.

Alongside that, if a homosexual or transgender were to come into a business as a customer, not causing any conflict, the business owner should treat that person with the same service as he or she would any other.

Just like owners have the right to choose who they serve, in America, people have the freedom to be themselves. Refusing to serve a person of a different lifestyle is discriminating against them, and in doing so, the owner has gone too far.

That being said, Indiana’s Senate Bill 101 is not allowing businesses to discriminate against those of a different religion, but rather protects religious business owners against those threatening their business choices. However, the perception of the bill has been twisted and businesses like Memories Pizza have gone too far. As for Planet Fitness, they should not have canceled the woman’s membership because of her concerns. Instead, they should have found a way to accomodate both the woman protesting and the transgender woman’s needs.

All in all, businesses should have the right to choose who they serve in order to protect the businesses’ employees, building and customers; however, if owners refuse to serve those of a different lifestyle, they have gone too far.

About Sarah Eskildson

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