USG passes resolution for expansion of all-gender restrooms

Canela López, Associate News Editor

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Tulane’s Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation April 5 that endorses a proposed new policy that aims to make Tulane’s campus more accessible to trans and gender nonconforming students.

USG160405 calls upon the administration to pass the Tulane University Gender-Neutral Restroom Policy. Drafted by the Tulane University LGBTIQA Policy Group, it aims to significantly increase the number of bathrooms available to individuals of any gender on campus by spring 2018.

The policy group is made up of administrators from the Office of Institutional Equity, Office of General Counsel, Workforce Management Organization, Undergraduate Student Government, Office for Gender and Sexual Diversity and University Planning.

The new policy requires buildings undergoing significant renovations, regularly occupied buildings and new buildings to include at least one single occupancy or multiple occupancy all-gender restroom when feasible. In order to take effect, the policy must be approved by the University President’s Cabinet and Faculty Senate.

OGSD Director Red Tremmel said he believes the university has been slowly working to align its treatment of trans, gender nonconforming and non-binary individuals to its anti-discrimination policy. Under Tulane’s Equal Employment/Anti-Discrimination Policy, gender identity and gender expression are recognized and protected categories.

“Going to the bathroom is a basic human need and for people who are gender nonconforming, transgender [or] non-binary, being able to safely access a restroom is a constant struggle, and our overall anti-discrimination policy includes identity and gender expression,” Tremmel said.

USG Senator Josh Rosenbaum was the only student representative on the LGBTIQA Policy Group and aided in passing USG legislation in support for the policy. After the policy draft was finalized, he authored a piece of legislation which served to show student support of the policy to the President’s Cabinet and Faculty Senate as well as set a date for the university to have enact the changes.

For some students, like sophomore Foster Noone, who is a member of Finding Intersectionality Together, the passing of the bathroom policy at the administrative level would alleviate the stressful experience of having to choose a gender-specific bathroom or forgo using the restroom altogether.

“Options are either completely invalidating or completing unsafe, or both,” Noone said. “So, on this campus, bathrooms are only just beginning to become accessible. We have to deal with the looks or the comments or more directly physical and verbal attacks when we make that choice in which restroom we use.”

Rosenbaum said he believes the policy is necessary due to the current political climate towards LGBT individuals. Notable are the recent enacting of legislation, often referred to as “bathroom bills” or “religious freedom bills,” in Mississippi and North Carolina, that allow business to refuse to service to customers based on sexuality, gender expression or gender identity. They also state that individuals must use bathrooms that coordinate with the gender they were assigned at birth.

“If it’s passed, this will put Tulane at the forefront of the issue on a national scale,” Rosenbaum said. “Having Tulane as a university, in general as a private university, but specifically as a university in the South, be a national leader on this issue is, I think, a huge political statement. It’s a huge moral statement, it’s an example of where I think Tulane should be on social issues.”

The policy has yet to be approved by the President’s Cabinet and Faculty Senate.