Efforts continue to introduce more gender-inclusive bathrooms
The movement to include more gender-inclusive bathrooms at the University of Oregon continues, but the movement has a diverse set of goals.
On Oct. 29, representatives from Theta Pi Sigma, the ASUO Executive branch, the Women’s Center and the LGBTESSP appeared before the ASUO Senate to ask for support for their efforts to increase the presence of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus.
Elle Mallon, the ASUO’s Gender and Sexuality Diversity advocate, was among the speakers. She outlined some of the issues that arose within the transgender community due to the lack of gender-inclusive bathrooms, including purposeful dehydration and other health complications, in addition to high-risk of assault or bodily harm.
The resolution is known as the “Resolution to Create and Make Accessible More Gender-Inclusive Restrooms on the University of Oregon Campus.”
The gender inclusive bathrooms are catching the attention of the campus community as of late, but are by no means a new project. The ASUO has been called to involvement recently, but the LGBTESSP has been working to advance this cause for about a year.
Kalie Solomon, program assistant with the LGBTESSP, was in charge of mapping out the locations of all single-occupancy bathrooms on campus last year. The map helped specify where all gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus were and the number of bathrooms.
Following the mapping, LGBTESSP Director Chicora Martin and Assistant Director Maure Smith-Benanti reached out to department heads to discuss increasing the presence of gender-inclusive bathrooms in their respective buildings.
According to Solomon, around 15-17 new gender-inclusive restrooms will be in place around campus, through conversion of signs for traditionally gendered bathrooms.
Casey Edwards was the ASUO State Affairs Commissioner until his resignation in the fall. Throughout the summer, however, he was involved in working with the LGBTESSP on the efforts regarding mapping out gender-inclusive bathrooms. Now, Mallon and Senate VP Miles Sisk are among the members of the ASUO currently coordinating with the LGBTESSP.
Mapping the bathrooms and gaining approval from the department heads has led to where the project currently stands, which is examining the costs of removing the current, traditionally gendered signs, and the purchase and installation of signs, which indicate a gender-inclusive facility. Funding to cover these costs may come from the departments, or additional fundraising efforts may be needed.
Solomon will soon be resurveying all the buildings to establish the most current report of bathrooms because the status has changed since the beginning of the school year.
Mallon’s work has been somewhat more aligned with an administrative route. In addition to involvement with the department head negotiations, she is currently preparing a resolution to present to the University Senate mandating at least one gender-inclusive bathroom in every building on campus. She said that Exec support, specifically support from President Beatriz Gutierrez, will be critical at that stage.
The movement is taking shape by means of several efforts, but all parties agree on the motivation: to create safe spaces for all members of campus.
“For people who might not feel comfortable identifying within a binary at all, it’s definitely important,” said Solomon.
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