For many students who identify as transgender or gender non-specific, the decision to choose between male or female restrooms on campus can be stressful.
Lee Doyle — a student who identifies as a transgender at UNC-Asheville — said many students who are conflicted between which restroom to use often fear violence from other students.
Buildings with gender non-specific bathrooms:
- Ackland Art Museum
- Ackland Art Museum Offices
- Baity Environmental Research Lab
- Battle Hall
- Brooks Computer Science Building
- Carr Building
- Carrington Hall
- Caudill Labs
- Connor Residence Hall
- Gerrard Hall
- Graham Residence Hall
- Hill Hall
- Hyde Hall
- Jackson Hall
- Joyner Residence Hall
- Kerr Hall
- Mitchell Hall
- Murphey Hall
- Peabody Hall
- Pettigrew Hall
- Phillips Hall
- Phillips Hall Annex
- Public Safety
- SASB North
- Smith Building
- South Building
- Spencer Residence Hall
- Swain Hall
- Tate Turner Kuralt Building
- Thurston Bowles Building
- Vance Hall
- Wilson Hall
- Wilson Library Annex
“I’ve had personal experiences of not feeling safe in bathrooms,” Doyle said. “Single-sex bathrooms have a really long history of being seen as sites for violence against people who are non-gender conforming.”
This year UNC-A has tried to alleviate some of the insecurities that students, like Doyle, experience by establishing gender-nonspecific bathrooms.
The university recently implemented such bathrooms in residence halls and many other academic buildings, changing single stall gender-specific restrooms on campus to gender nonspecific ones.
Jane Fernandes, UNC-A’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, led the project after attending a diversity conference on campus last year.
“One of our students talked about how everyday there was a conflict on whether to go into the male or female restroom,” Fernandes said. “That was my first understanding that there were students on campus who didn’t feel welcome.”
Fernandes and other school officials worked with the facilities director to identify places on campus where restrooms could be gender nonspecific.
Courtney Galatioto, UNC-A student body president who worked with Fernandes on the project, said she advocated for gender-neutral bathrooms before becoming president.
Galatioto said that the new bathrooms have a sign that reads restroom.
“A lot of students have been really happy with that because, for them, it’s not overly bringing attention to the fact that this is a change that people want,” she said. “It’s very respectful in a sense of no questions asked.”
The bathrooms also serve the campus’ high population of students that have children, Galatioto said.
“A simple solution of a dad trying to take his kid to the bathroom is hard,” she said. “This is a little bit more family-appropriate.”
Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center at UNC-CH, said there are 56 gender nonspecific bathrooms on campus.
There are 54 single-stall bathrooms that are labeled male or female, Phoenix said.
The center is advocating for these restrooms to become gender nonspecific, Phoenix said.
Phoenix said that gender-non-specific restrooms benefit multiple people on college campuses.
“It always benefits people with a disability who have personal care attendants,” Phoenix said.
Billy Kluttz, co-president of GBLTSA at UNC-CH, said he would like to see more gender nonspecific bathrooms on campus so individuals could feel more comfortable entering restrooms.
“They can use the bathroom in peace without worrying about being attacked,” he said.
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