There are a lot of dumb things in this world. Man buns, Farmville, unpaid internships just to name a few.
But gendered single-stall bathrooms are definitely up there on that list.
Especially in 2016, where it is well-accepted that gender is fluid and far more complex than the traditional male/female binary, why do so many places still feel the need to stick a little man or woman sticker on their bathroom doors? If I need to go, and there’s an empty private room, it’s pretty dumb to have to wait just because a little stick figure says I’m not allowed.
Fortunately, LGBTQ activist Kristin Russo feels the exact same way and is trying to do something about it.
The Los Angeles-based co-founder and CEO of the LGBTQ community organization Everyone Is Gay has launched a new initiative called OUR Restroom.
OUR (which stands for “One Unisex Restroom”) works to educate business owners about the importance of gender neutrality when it comes to single-stall bathrooms.
“Patrons of local businesses can use our website to access free, informative materials to help businesses better understand the importance of unisex restrooms for transgender & gender non-conforming folks, as well as for many others in the larger community!” says the OUR Restroom Indiegogo page.
While the concept seems simple, unfortunately, archaic city zoning laws sometimes require businesses to have “separate toilet rooms” for each sex, making an initiative like Russo’s all the more necessary. They can help businesses navigate the legal system so they can make their spaces more inclusive in a way that works for everybody.
Here in Canada, many schools have been leading the way in the fight for inclusive spaces.
City View Alternative School in Toronto opened their first all-gender washroom in 2013. Since then, 50 other schools have followed suit. Recently, the Royal Ontario Museum added a new set of gender-neutral washrooms, inspired by an exhibit exploring gender diversity in ancient Japan. The Toronto police headquarters now has one as well.
Of course, the fact that these sort of initiatives are still newsworthy just shows how much work we have left to do about this. Hopefully, as this issue gets more attention, more places will realize just how silly gender-neutral single stall washrooms really are.