Opinion: Gender-neutral restrooms deserve extra care

There are steps ASU can take to better ensure the accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms serve the people who need them most

In 2015, ASU built a large number of gender-neutral bathrooms at many different locations across all four campuses. This progressive move was a step in the right direction for LGBTQ+ students to feel safe in ASU communities.

Though many people often associate these restrooms with LGBTQ+ individuals, these bathrooms are used by multiple groups of people, including transgender or gender non-conforming students who may use these restrooms due to not feeling safe in the men's or women's restrooms. Students with disabilities or families with different gendered children are also included in who may benefit from gender-neutral restrooms.

"I think it's important that people respect these spaces so that they can continue to be accessible," said Casey Sechler, a lecturer at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. "These spaces can benefit a wide range of people, not just folks who are gender diverse, but also those with disabilities, or caregivers with young children." 

Students with disabilities may use these restrooms for physical needs or may want a more quiet, less crowded area where they are less likely to feel overstimulated.

But these restrooms are not always the cleanest. One Reddit post describes students trashing these bathrooms, smoking in them or not respecting the fact that people may be waiting in line to use them next.

"I can understand students and faculty who may not have as much time to go off campus for a smoke break and are going to these restrooms for privacy, especially right now during times of increased stress," Sechler said. 

But it's not an excuse to leave it a mess.

So, what can ASU do to ensure that students aren't misusing these bathrooms? After all, this isn't exactly an area where you can monitor people since bathrooms are meant to be private. 

One thing ASU could do is to educate people on what these restrooms are used for and who they serve.

Some possibilities include placing an informative sign outside of the restroom, holding educational presentations or having ASU community members explain the purpose of these restrooms to incoming students.

Other people simply are not well informed on bathroom etiquette, which is also something that we, unfortunately, need to work on in society. That's why we still see people without a need using the big bathroom stalls when others are available. 

In addition, many people are still unaccepting, or simply do not care about the transgender, disabled or other marginalized groups of people who use these restrooms. Until we see these types of prejudice becoming less common and accepted, I worry that we will still see these restrooms left dirty and uncared for.

Although trashing these bathrooms may seem like a small thing to most, it may be frustrating to those who have no choice but to use the gender-neutral bathroom. In order to respect the students who use these restrooms, people should treat these spaces with care.


 Reach the columnist at htenore@asu.edu or follow @haleyyhmt on Twitter.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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