The Lavin-Bernick Center will convert all eight single-occupancy restrooms in the buildingto all-gender restrooms by the end of the semester. The change follows similar initiatives at Vanderbilt University and Emory University.
All-gender restrooms are available to all people regardless of their gender identity or expression. Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation at its meeting March 3 that supports the change and encourages the university architect to consider the implementation of similar restrooms in upcoming construction projects.
“Recognizing that gender identity is a protected class in Tulane’s Anti-Discrimination Statement, considering the daily harm caused to gender non-conforming and non-normative students by not having a safe, inclusive and accessible restroom option…[USG] urges the [LBC] to convert all eight single-use restrooms into All-Gender Restrooms by the end of the semester,” the USG legislation states.
Senator Charisse Poston, who co-authored the legislation with Gender and Sexuality Council Chair Abby Jones, said this is the first concrete action made by USG since discussion of the issue began several years ago.
“This [initiative] is so transgender students feel like they have a safe space to use the restroom on campus,” Poston said. “I know it’s been a concern for a really long time, and it’s been something that everyone’s been wanting to happen.”
Since all the single-occupancy bathrooms are identical on the inside, only the signs will be changed. LBC Director Molly Ward said this change is a simple way to make the LBC a more accepting place.
“We want the LBC to be a place where people feel like they are welcome,” Ward said. “Because we are lucky enough to have those single bathrooms, it’s a really easy way to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the community and being inclusive. Wording and symbols are a really easy thing for us to change.”
The legislation only calls for changes to single-occupancy restrooms. Ward said that though she would like to consider changing the larger restrooms in the building, bathroom codes have not yet caught up to social changes.
“We have not looked at what it would take to do the larger restrooms,” Ward said. “I think the issue there is going to be the code has yet to catch up with what society is pushing for as there is still a bathroom code on occupancy related to gender. I have an obligation to provide a certain number of fixtures for males and a certain number of fixtures for females.”
Poston said she hopes the inclusion of all-gender restrooms will extend beyond the LBC.
“There’s a lot of renovations on campus, like the School of Architecture, [the business school] and [the construction of a new dining hall],” Poston said. “I definitely want to talk to the university architect at some point before I graduate to talk to them about the merits of these facilities. Hopefully, they’ll implement [all-gender restrooms] in plans for the future.”