Rachel Allen, a UNC student and co-chairperson of CAGE, which is a Campus Y committee, said gender-neutral bathrooms are an easy fix to a problem that affects a lot of people.
“Gender-neutral bathrooms would not only benefit transgender and gender nonconforming people,” Allen said.
“It is also really, really helpful for differently-abled people or parents with a child of a different gender.”
Allen said single-stall bathrooms in businesses could have “all-gender” restrooms signs that would make the lives of transgender people much easier.
She said transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals face a lot of discrimination when using their assigned bathrooms.
“The goal is not to eliminate gender from bathrooms,” Allen said.
“Right now where we are, a lot of people would feel unsafe doing that in multi-stall bathrooms.”
Allison Eames, a UNC student and another of CAGE’s chairpeople, said gendered bathrooms can be a very dangerous place for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
She said though the petition was initiated for the town of Chapel Hill, CAGE plans to bring the issue to UNC’s student government.
“I think gender-neutral bathrooms will bring the community together more,” Eames said.
“I think it will create a safer place at Carolina and Chapel Hill in general.”
Eames said when the petition gets 500 signatures, CAGE will present it to local businesses.
CAGE will then allow these businesses to decide if they want to implement their own gender-neutral bathrooms.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said in an email that the state legislature has called for a special session on the issue.
She said she will keep a close eye as they address the gender-neutral issue.
“Chapel Hill is committed to making sure that our town is a place for everyone,” Hemminger said.
Allen said establishing gender-neutral bathrooms would allow the voices of transgender and gender-nonconforming people to be heard.
“I think it is very important for us to be aware of the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming people because their voices are so often silenced in our society,” Allen said.
“So I think this is a really, really good step for us to be taking, but there is still a lot that needs to be done.”