The Grassroots Movement to Change the Nation's Public Restroom Laws

Over a million people suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. It may be time to rethink bathroom access.

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Nearly a decade has passed since the horrific incident that propelled Ally Bain into the spotlight and down a long road of activism. That day she had been awash with humiliation, anger, and worry for how a life with this disease would affect her. Would she forever be defined by this disease, unable to look past the debilitating symptoms and afraid to venture out of the house?

"I would say that one incident showed me the importance of turning a negative situation into a positive outcome," she says. "Speaking out about an illness that is so often stigmatized because of the symptoms associated with it has allowed me to show that I've overcome the disease."

Ally graduated from Chicago's Lake Forest College in May. She's now working at the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier in Virginia, but has law school in her sights, a sign her life of activism may only just be beginning.

Perhaps the store incident had shaped the trajectory of her life, just not the way her 14-year-old self thought it would.

"I haven't let [IBD] define me," she reflects. "But I also use it as a platform to help other people who are not able to use their voice."

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  • Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. He can be reached at sowens@usnews.com.