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Published June 13, 2024

University students and staff push for the adoption of more gender neutral bathrooms on campus

Although the University has taken action to making all single-stall bathrooms on campus gender neutral, many students and staff think the next step in improving the availability of these bathrooms is making multi-use gender neutral bathrooms.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter

University students have long pushed the University administration to make gender neutral bathrooms accessible in every building on campus, but even as the University made strides towards making every single-use bathroom on campus gender neutral, students and staff still raise concerns about these facilities not being able to accommodate the demand.

“The demand [for gender neutral bathrooms] is getting high,” said Will Clashe, member of the Trans Advisory and Action Team (TAAT). “We know there is not enough to meet that demand, and when there are enough to meet that demand, that is going to benefit people for a long time and really be a concrete, material commitment to equity.”

TAAT members suggest one way the University could address the demand for gender neutral bathrooms is by constructing gender neutral bathrooms with more than one stall across campus buildings. Currently, there is only one multi-use gender neutral bathroom which is located in Ford Hall.

“There’s a huge barrier [for the University] to having multi-use gender neutral bathrooms, which would solve a lot of the issues, because then you would have [more] capacity,” Lee Penn, University chemistry professor and TAAT member, said.

This is an initiative already being tackled by staff at the Andersen Library. According to Wanda Marsolek, engineering liaison and data curation librarian, the library is currently exploring design options on how to make a single-use gender neutral bathroom available there.

The first step in this process is to get cost estimates for the necessary renovations. As of now, the University has invested about $11,000 in only getting the Andersen Library cost estimates conducted, Marsolek said.

Although it is less expensive to make all single use bathrooms gender neutral compared to constructing gender neutral bathrooms with multiple stalls, Marsolek said it is important for the University to make these investments.

“I think there needs to be a focus on making these investments so people believe they belong, that they have these rights,” Marsolek said.

Just like the work being done in Andersen library, different academic departments in the University have taken initiative to ensure that their buildings have gender neutral bathrooms, according to Penn.

“I think chemistry is a great example [of this],” Penn said. “I think it was in 2011, [when] we were the first department in the College of Science and Engineering to explicitly push for a gender neutral bathroom in our building, and now we have three.”

Even if buildings have gender neutral bathrooms, it can be difficult to locate them within buildings, according to Penn.

“You’ll walk into a building and [signs] will say where the men’s bathroom is, and where the women’s bathroom is, but there is no sign that includes where the gender neutral bathrooms are, which I think is frustrating,” Penn said.

One of the resources available to students is an online gender neutral restroom map, where students can figure out which buildings have gender neutral bathrooms and where inside the buildings the bathrooms are located. This map can be found under the resources section of the University’s Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life’s web page.

TAAT is currently working with the University’s facilities management to complete a comprehensive inventory of bathrooms on campus, Clashe said. The inventory is a necessary next step to address where the University could stand to improve the availability of gender neutral restrooms on campus.

“In the area of bathrooms, it’s a daily need,” Clashe said. “It’s a basic human right. It’s about dignity.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the initiative that staff members are pushing for in Anderson Library; staff are seeking a single-use gender neutral bathroom in Anderson Library.

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  • A Gopher
    Nov 9, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    They let the homeless drop deuce wherever so let’s just do like the Turkeys do and let it plop wherever!

  • Skippy Tiesdale
    Nov 5, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Just put a bunch of Home Depot buckets around campus. Let’s Do This!