The Benefit of Implementing More Gender-neutral Bathrooms

Gender-neutral bathroom sign

Gender-neutral bathroom sign

Opinion

Gender-neutral bathrooms are the most inclusive option and bring health benefits and safety to a range of people, yet in most of our region, they are not required.

Many states have implemented laws protecting the rights of individuals to use any bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. However, the problem with having gendered restrooms increases when individuals identify as non-binary and/or gender nonconforming.

Some argue that individuals identifying outside of the gender binary should simply be allowed to choose which bathroom to use. However, this concept can be isolating and does not respect the identity of over 1.2 million Americans who identify this way.

Consequently, many gender-nonconforming Americans experience harassment and discomfort when forced to use a public restroom that disreagrds their gender expression.

Gender-segregated bathrooms, although they are the status quo today, are a fairly modern invention. The first gendered bathrooms did not arise in America until the late 1800s and arose in response to the “Separate Sphere Ideology”.

“Separate Sphere Ideology” argues that men and women have strictly defined places in society that adhere to traditional gender roles. This theory specifically states that a woman’s role is domestic, while a man’s is working outside of the home.

When women began joining the workforce, this ideology caused the rise of separate women’s restrooms made to “protect women”. However, this idea of keeping women safe has often been used to promote other agendas.

This issue has become a large controversy in the fight for gender-neutral bathrooms. Many people fear that offering gender-neutral bathrooms could cause a rise of sexual harassment and would decrease privacy for women.

Although this is a valid fear, the concept of gendered bathrooms also promotes unsafe environments for a variety of individuals. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Reuters in New York, 60 percent of transgender Americans have reported that they have avoided public restrooms after experiencing harassment and/or assualt.

Gendered restrooms also serve as a burden for many cisgender Americans who either have young children who identify as a seperate gender or a caregiver/personal attendent identifying with a seperate gender.

Therefore, the requirement of at least one gender-neutral bathroom is a solution that could benefit a large majority of Americans in ensuring their safety and comfort when accessing public restrooms.
Even if your business is unable to build a third, gender-neutral bathroom, consider taking steps to make your restrooms more inclusive to the public and ensure safety within your business.