U should update its building codes

Daily Editorial Board

As a part of a decadelong effort to make the University of Minnesota more accessible for transgender students, Facilities Management is looking to update about 270 single-stall bathrooms with gender-inclusive signage.
 
 
But University building codes are hindering the reformulation of about 200 gendered bathrooms — usually single-stall restrooms with a lock — into bathrooms accessible to people of any gender identity. Outdated codes dictate the number of restrooms a building can have and requires them to be either gendered or labeled as family-assisted.
 
 
Currently, there are about 50 gender-neutral or unisex restrooms on the Twin Cities campus, according to a map created by the University’s Transgender Commission. For a campus of 48,000 students and about 17,000 employees, that number is far too small.
 
 
Transgender and non-gender-conforming students, faculty and staff should not have to trek and search for a bathroom. However, if campus is barely sprinkled with inclusive restrooms, then those individuals will continue to feel uncomfortable and excluded.
 
 
The University has already demonstrated a desire to expand the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms, as evidenced by President Eric Kaler’s $250,000 budget allocation for that project in April 2016.
 
 
Still, there’s much more work to do in order to guarantee the on-campus comfort of the school’s entire community.
 
 
We urge senior University leadership to take the easy and overdue step of revising current building codes and requiring all newly renovated buildings to have at least one gender-inclusive bathroom.