LGBTQ Resources: Gender Neutral Restrooms
Gender Neutral Restrooms at Western Libraries
In response to the May 2012 Resolution Regarding Gender Neutral Restrooms signed by the Board of Directors of the Associated Students of Western Washington University, and in partnership with the Equal Opportunity Office, Western Libraries now has two gender neutral restrooms located on the sixth floor of Wilson Library. Previously designated as gendered single occupancy restrooms, these restrooms now are both gender neutral with temporary signage located next to the entrances to indicate their new status.
The rationale for creating gender neutral restrooms within Western Libraries is as follows:
1. “Many transgender and other gender non-conforming individuals experience harassment, assault and police intervention when attempting to access gender-specific restrooms. Although such experiences may not occur at Western, they can inform transgender and gender non-conforming people’s feelings of safety and acceptance when using restrooms on campus. Gender-neutral restrooms are an attempt to provide safe and reasonably available places for transgender and other gender non-conforming students, faculty and staff to use restrooms at school or work without fear of embarrassment, harassment or violence.” (From the Equal Opportunity Office's June 2012 FAMIS Request).
2. Furthermore, creating gender neutral restrooms is also in keeping with Western Libraries’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Wilson Sixth Floor gender neutral restrooms are available from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays. Additional gender neutral restrooms are available at locations including:
- Old Main, Fifth Floor
- Bond Hall, Mezzanine
- Wade King Recreation Ctr., First Floor
Questions? Please contact Rebecca Marrall at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Western Libraries Diversity Guide here.
(Note: Special thanks go to Frank Haulgren for his signage expertise and to Sylvia Tag for her support)
Gender Neutral Restrooms: Discussion
Gender-neutral: Nondiscriminatory language to describe relationships—e.g. “spouse” and “partner” are gender-neutral alternatives to the gender-specific words “husband,” “wife,” “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” (Courtesy of UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center).
Gender-variant: Displaying gender traits that are not normatively associated with their biological sex. “Feminine” behavior or appearance in a male is gender-variant as is “masculine” behavior or appearance a female. Gender-variant behavior is culturally specific. (Courtesy of UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center).
Gender Role: How “masculine” or “feminine” an individual acts. Societies commonly have norms regarding how males and females should behave, expecting people to have personality characteristics and/or act a certain way based on their biological sex. (Courtesy of UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center).
Here are some useful resources in order to become more familiar with the issues around gender neutral restrooms.
Gender Neutral Restrooms: FAQs
1. "How many students, staff, and faculty will these restrooms serve?"
While the exact number is difficult to determine, it's important to remember that these restrooms can be used by all individuals. Removing the gendered signs simply creates safe and inclusive spaces for individuals of every gender identity. Furthermore, these restrooms were requested by the WWU Associated Students Board and their constituents, and it is important to Western Libraries to be responsive to student needs.
2. "Wilson Sixth Floor has limited hours. Where else can students, staff and faculty access gender neutral restrooms?"
There are additional gender-neutral restrooms, both on and off-campus, for students, staff, and faculty. For gender neutral restrooms across campus, please refer to the above rationale for the locations. For gender neutral restrooms throughout the Bellingham community, please refer to this website, Refuge Restrooms.
3. "Are there alternatives to gender neutral restrooms?"
An alternative to gender neutral restrooms are single occupancy restrooms. However, these restrooms are still gendered and thus are not as inclusive (or representative) of all gender identities. These restrooms should be a last resort.