University to Make Single-Stall Restrooms Gender-Inclusive Following Student Activism

ELLA WAN/THE HOYA Healy Hall is one of several public buildings on campus with single-stall restrooms that the university is planning to make gender-inclusive and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.

ELLA WAN/THE HOYA
Healy Hall is one of several public buildings on campus with single-stall restrooms that the university is planning to make gender-inclusive and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.

The university and the Georgetown University Student Association LGBTQ Inclusivity policy team have launched an initiative to make single-stall restrooms in public buildings on campus both gender-inclusive and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant by the end of the semester.

Currently, many public buildings on campus, including the Leavey Center, Healy Hall and the Healey Family Student Center have single-stall restrooms separated into men’s and women’s restrooms. For most existing single-stall restrooms on campus, only altering the signage is necessary to indicate that they are all-gender.

Currently, not all of the single-stall restrooms that are eligible to become all-gender restrooms display signs that indicate they are accessible for those with disabilities. The ADA requires that all public facilities, including restrooms, be accessible for those with disabilities.

The university is planning to complete a feasibility study of all the restrooms in question to determine whether the single-stall restrooms that are eligible to become all-gender restrooms are also accessible. Following the study, its findings are set to appear in a report detailing which single-stall restrooms currently comply with ADA access guidelines and which need modifications before they can also have signage changes.

The Office of Planning and Facilities Management is supplying the funding for the new signs, while funding for the completion of the feasibility study is coming from the Office of Student Affairs’ budget.

Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said the university is “committed to complete the study,” which he estimates will take several months, though he noted the cost of the study is unclear yet.

Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey said the university is working to make restrooms accessible for all students.

“We’re surveying all the major buildings on campus and are doing our best to identify, make necessary changes to and put appropriate signs on the single-user bathrooms we identify in this process,” Morey wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Morey declined to comment on the anticipated cost of the signs.

Members of the LGBTQ Inclusivity team are hopeful the signs for restrooms that are identified as accessible by the feasibility study will be changed before the end of the semester. Any changes required to bring single-stall restrooms up to ADA code will extend beyond the end of this school year, according to GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17).

“This is the dream: By the end of the semester, every restroom that can be all-gender will be,” Henry Callander (COL ’18), a former GUSA senator who is also a member of the LGBTQ Inclusivity team and GUPride, said.

The push to look into the possibility of including gender-inclusive restrooms began when the current GUSA administration took office at the end of last spring, according to Khan. GUSA has worked alongside the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, the Office of Planning and Facilities Management and the Office of Student Affairs to push the initiative.

“Considering all our commitments to caring for the whole person, we need to ensure that anyone feels comfortable to go into a bathroom in a public building. These are just basic things the university recognizes that we should be doing,” Khan said.

The initiative comes as President Donald Trump announced a rollback in federal protections for transgender students who attend public schools Feb. 23, reversing former President Barack Obama’s memos regarding the rights of trans students. The Obama administration said in a May 2016 guidance to public schools it is a violation of anti-discrimination laws to prohibit students from using restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity rather than their assigned sex at birth.

Callander said today’s political climate has paved the way for the university to embrace the rights of transgender students.

“It’s really given agency for the school to take steps to make our trans students feel like they have a home. The number one phase right now is just changing the ones that are already single-stall restrooms into signage that says all-gender,” Callander said. “No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you’re at a school where everyone is loved and included, and if you don’t support people that are different to you, it’s problematic for me. You have to be there for people, especially during turbulent times.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

10 Comments

  1. Mike Flynn says:

    Single stall restrooms? Big deal; what’s the difference? This is the first step to open all restrooms and locker rooms to transgender’s. Anything less you are against civil right’s and called a bigot, or whatever the name of the month is? How is Georgetown going to handle the eventual lawsuit of a man who identifies as a woman trying out for a woman’s team and sharing a shower?

    I believe everyone has a right to equal protection under the law. However common sense should prevail. Since when did a mental condition become part of the civil rights movement. Once some of these student protesters grow up and have children we will see if they want their daughters sharing a locker room with Kaitlen Jenner?

  2. Mary Wareham says:

    GUSA says:
    “Considering all our commitments to caring for the whole person, we need to ensure that anyone feels comfortable to go into a bathroom in a public building….” .

    Well…I am a woman and would feel very uncomfortable using a restroom where I might encounter a man. what about my feelings? Where is common sense going?

    Grandma

    • Mike Flynn says:

      Sorry your feelings don’t apply! The LGBT lobby is more important? Women are the real losers here. As a large man I have no problem using the men’s room,ladies room, an all gender room or a brick wall. I can envision women going into an all gender bathroom to find the seat lifted up with the remnant’s of bad aim or a 65 year old prostate like I have. Currently I live in North Carolina where all the hysteria about HB2 is going on. I have spoken to several women about it and so far there are no takers on having men share their facilities?

    • Mary & Mike, if you read the piece, this change only applies to single-stall restrooms. So Mary, the only way you’d encounter a man is if you entered an occupied restroom. Best to knock first before entering!

      But seriously. There doesn’t seem to be a logical reason to have sex-segregated single stall restrooms. “Safety” and “common sense” appeals dont make sense given that only one person can occupy them at a time. I’m not sure what about a sign with a generic genders indicated on them increases the danger of these extant spaces.

      And Mike – though you may struggle with transgender people and their veryreal needs – making it clear that single-stall restrooms are available for use by everyone has nothing to do with your personal (and a minority of researchers you can find to cite) feelings about transgender people – nor does it “encourage” people to be transgender

  3. Mike Flynn says:

    Two top experts in the field of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins did a major study on transgenders.

    http://www.wmd.com/2016/08/johns-hopkins-shrinks-warn-against-going-transgender-with-kids/

    It’s sad that people get attacked or bullied due to sexual orientation but that doesn’t justify the blackmail and intimidation the LGBT political lobby employs!

  4. Pingback: Campus news of the week: Racist beer pong, universal bathrooms, textbook prices and more

  5. Pingback: Campus news of the week: Racist beer pong, textbook prices and more | USA Elections Results

  6. Pingback: Campus news of the week: Racist beer pong, universal bathrooms, textbook prices and more – HEOP.org

  7. Pingback: Campus news of the week: Racist beer pong, textbook prices and more | shaheenMediaSialkot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>