University begins conversion to gender-inclusive bathrooms

In an effort to accommodate students of all genders, SF State has started converting single-stall restrooms to be gender-inclusive.

The University currently has 13 gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus and is moving toward finalizing plans to convert all single-occupancy bathrooms in an attempt to be compliant with a new state law.

“The dean of students office is working with campus partners assessing the needs of gender-inclusive restrooms and working on having more gender-inclusive restrooms added,” said Katon Dalton, equity programs and compliance manager at SF State.

SF State began converting bathrooms before Californian legislators passed Assembly Bill 1732, a bill that will make all public single-occupancy stalls in the state gender-neutral.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sept. 29 after it passed through the state congress in August of this year and will go into full effect on March 1, 2017.

California was one of the first states to give transgender students access to bathrooms of the gender they identify with after passing AB1266 back in 2013. But AB1732 makes an effort to create safer public facilities regardless of gender identification.

“The law increases access to gender-inclusive restrooms and more importantly being responsive towards the needs of all individuals regardless of how they identify,” Dalton said.

AB1732 contrasts North Carolina’s HB2 law, which forced transgender people to use the restroom corresponding to their sex at birth and not the gender they self-identified with. And while the University has made early moves to address the needs of transgender students in this area, students feel like there’s more work to be done.

“I’ve noticed that the gender-inclusive restrooms aren’t everywhere,” said Odalis Guillen, a women and gender studies major. “I think there should be one on every floor, or at least one in every building.”

Dalton said the University is aware there is still more they can do to provide gender-inclusive facilities.

“Sometimes changing the signage isn’t going to be sufficient when attempting to convert a restroom to be gender-inclusive,” Dalton said.

He explained that in some cases, plumbing must be changed to successfully convert a restroom.

The University has taken into account gender-inclusive restrooms when planning for the upcoming Mashouf Wellness Center. The facility is slated to have three single-occupancy restrooms to accommodate students of all genders.

“I think that’s a great idea to make sure that all genders feel comfortable and part of the SF State community,” Guillen said.

Guillen uses both women’s and gender-neutral restrooms and hopes that people will become more comfortable with the idea of gender-inclusive restrooms as they become more common on and off campus.

Students like Josh Taylor are also looking forward to seeing more of these restrooms off campus as they become a requirement next year.

“I think it’s great that we’re making sure that all students feel comfortable going into a restroom. I mean, it’s almost a human right,” said Taylor, a psychology major. “I hope that we continue to take steps to make sure everyone in California is accommodated.”
SF State is still analyzing the costs of these conversions as well as the official signage.

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  • Many places in Europe consider restrooms simply as a place to perform necessary bodily functions. The United States stills lives in the Victorian era of sexual repression. During an event in the Humanities Building, we got a short restroom break. The closest restrooms were “gender neutral”. When I tried the door it was not locked. The stall was in use so I waited a few seconds. A young lady exited the stall and I entered. She did not lock the door on the way out, and when I emerged there was another young lady. She entered the stall, I washed my hands and exited. This is how both adults and human beings should face restroom access: not as a gender-based facility, but simply as a place to do what humans have to do. As a human society it is time to lose the fear and paranoia and start treating each other as fellow human beings.