When post-undergraduate student Amy Lee transferred from Portland State University this summer, she was surprised of the limitation of all-gender bathrooms on campus.
“I used to see many of (gender-inclusive bathrooms) in Portland,” Lee said. “But I have only seen one so far here.”
All-gender bathrooms or gender-inclusive bathrooms are a bathroom that eliminate gender bias, as well as the potential harrassments that trans students could face going to a traditional restrooms.
According to a National LGBTQ Task Force survey, more than 50 percent of all transgender people have faced discrimination, harassment or violence in traditional public restrooms.
That is about to change on University of Oregon’s campus, with the implementation of a number of one-user bathrooms and a rule forcing all new buildings and major renovations to include at least one gender-inclusive bathrooms.
Last year, the University Senate passed the resolution for gender-inclusive bathrooms backed with support from the LGBT Education Support & Services Program, ASUO Executive and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer Alliance. Months before that, vice president for finance and administration Jamie Moffitt formed a committee including campus operations, LGBT ESSP and campus planning, design and construction to implement the project.
“We have fought this well over a decade,” said Andrew Rogers, PR and Marketing Specialist for LGBT ESSP, “It is a pressing needs for people to be able go to the bathrooms without being verbal or physical harassed.”
Over the summer, the university has implemented 76 all-gender bathrooms on campus. An addition of 36 restrooms will be available for use by the end of fall term, Moffitt said. As of now, most buildings on campus has at least one all-gender bathrooms.
“We are proud to be able to do this project,” Moffitt said. “It’s the core of making our community feel safe and inclusive as much as possible for everyone on campus.”
The university will put a new sign that recognizes all gender usage in front of the standard family or one-user restrooms.
“It’s a statement of inclusion that gender-inclusive restrooms are for everybody,” Rogers said. “It’s us saying that ‘We want you to be included, and you have the right to be included.’”
The university has to make sure the bathrooms are safe and acceptable. The committee also puts in to consideration sign placement so students can easily find the restrooms, as well as raise awareness around campus about the new addition.
But nothing has been “challenging,” Moffitt said.
But according to Rogers, all-gender bathrooms is an idea not everybody cheers for.
“It’s always hard to break the norms,” Rogers said. “We are working on raising awareness of what (all-gender bathrooms) really means, because of a lot of misconception. Of course we will listen to the feedback from student body and make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Updated buildings with at least one gender-inclusive bathrooms include Straub Hall, Student Recreation Center, Allen Hall and Prince Lucien Campbell Hall.
The university also redesigned the interactive UO Maps to highlight all-gender bathroom locations, as well as adding the recently converted ones. Students can use the interactive UO Maps to find current all-gender bathroom locations on the by searching “gender inclusive restrooms,” according to LGBT ESSP.
For Lee, the implementation of all-gender bathrooms is a step forward in making campus inclusive.
“I can see many people benefit from it,” Lee said. “It also has the benefit of visibility, so when students who may be not particularly use these restrooms can also see the sign and be aware of (the inclusion).”