All-gender restrooms raise concern on campus

A look inside Pierce College Puyallup’s two all-gender restrooms.

Rebecca Dickson, Reporter

Pierce College Puyallup created two all-gender restrooms last year after members of the college community expressed their concern on the use of restrooms by transgender individuals.
Pierce College Title IX coordinator and Vice President of Human Resources Holly Gorski responded to these concerns last year on March 11, 2015.

“The short answer is that every member of the Pierce College community is free to use whichever restroom aligns with their gender identity,” Gorski said. “Pierce College is also in the process of identifying gender neutral restrooms on both campuses, which will be available for anyone to use, regardless of gender identity or expression.”

On the Puyallup campus, the restrooms are located on the first floor of the College Center building and the first floor of the Arts and Allied Health building. The all-gender restrooms were called “family restrooms” before, but the placard has changed. Manjinder Sandhu believes this has been the only change made to the restrooms.

The restrooms are not equal to other restrooms on campus.

The restroom in the CTR has no paper towels (but does have a weak hand dryer), has no access to feminine hygiene products for those who have menstrual periods and the water pressure is high enough that when a student washes their hands, they can be splashed with water. The door is automatic, and takes 45 seconds to open and close. The lights are on a timer, so if a student must stay in a restroom for an extended period of time, the lights may go off.

The AAH all-gender bathroom has similar issues. In this bathroom the door isn’t automatic and though there aren’t any paper towels, the hand dryer is stronger than the one found in the CTR. There’s an ADA compliant tampon and pad dispenser, but it’s empty, a changing table which may prove useful to students who have children, yet blocks access to the side of the toilet. Finally, the all-gender bathroom features a hole in the wall, exposing a cap which appears to lead to piping.

Both restrooms appear to be relatively clean, despite these concerns.

Another issue some students have with the restrooms is their visibility.

“A student could confuse it with the utility closet,” student Toni Lane said. “It would be nice if the bathroom was more visible.”

Lane said that students often don’t know the restrooms exist as they weren’t advertised well, and that students of the LGBTQ+ community may not be aware of their existence.

The Puyallup campus Gay-Straight Alliance helped spread the word about the existence of the all-gender restrooms. Recently, the GSA had a Gender 101 panel where they informed members of the community about LGBTQ+ issues.

“I didn’t know there was another (all-gender) restroom until the Gender 101 panel,” Lane said.

Lane also expressed that it was a good move to have the restrooms on campus, but improvements should be made.

“One the one hand it’s really cool and amazing,” Lane said. “But I wish they could have done better with it”.

Yet, concerns of equality in the restrooms still exist.

The right for a person to receive equal treatment regardless of gender identity is covered under Title IX, a federal statute that protects students from sex-based discrimination.

Although students at Pierce College are allowed to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, not all people identify within the gender binary. All-gender restrooms are a way for the college to provide facilities for all students, regardless of gender identity. However, these facilities are unequal to the other restrooms on campus.

Equality could be achieved through having a gender-neutral restroom, which Sandhu believes is a possible goal for the Puyallup campus to meet in the future in order to make the restrooms more inclusive towards students.

Sandhu explains gender neutral restrooms are different than all-gender restrooms as they would most likely have multiple stalls. These stalls would seal completely to create a room; the stall walls would be from ceiling to floor, and would not be unlike those seen in the United Kingdom.

A sink would be found in the middle, with an open door so anyone can see people washing their hands in it.

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Rebecca Dickson

All-gender restrooms raise concern on campus

by Rebecca Dickson time to read: 3 min