2016 2016: UMass Dartmouth establishes 62 all-gender restrooms across campus

2016 2016: UMass Dartmouth establishes 62 all-gender restrooms across campus
UMass Dartmouth establishes 62 all-gender restrooms across campus

Initiative uses single-occupancy restrooms to expand access and strengthen commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion

In a continuing effort to extend its commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, UMass Dartmouth has converted more than 62 single-occupancy restrooms to all-gender restrooms.The restrooms are located in all but two campus buildings. Eighty percent of the all-gender bathrooms are also handicapped accessible. A web-based map indicates where each of these bathrooms are located.

The all-gender restrooms are identified via signage with the hand washing symbol and the word "restroom." Bathrooms that are also accessible to wheelchair uses will include the International Symbol of Access. (See image below) Each all-gender restroom is a lockable, single-stall facility.

This initiative makes UMass Dartmouth a more welcoming place for trans students, staff and faculty. Representatives from a number of University departments and groups, including Facilities, Student Affairs, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion met throughout the past year to discuss the topic and how to improve access in each campus building.

“This group decided it made sense to start with the single-occupancy units as it allowed a very high percentage of coverage throughout the majority of our buildings,” said Crystal Harris, University Architect. “There are still a few that are under review because some buildings didn't have a style of restroom conducive to this initiative. Discussions continue on how to retrofit those areas and make facilities accessible to all genders.”

An all-gender restroom, also known as a gender-inclusive restroom, can benefit many different people, including parents with differently gendered children, people with disabilities who may require the accompaniment of an attendant of a different gender and trans and gender non-conforming people.

“Having gender neutral bathrooms creates an environment where trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals are able to feel safe and secure while using the bathroom,” said Dr. Juli Parker, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality.

There are many instances where trans individuals are questioned and challenged about whether or not they are in the ‘correct’ restroom. They can be subject to verbal or physical harassment. UMass Dartmouth is committed to providing a safe environment for all of its students, staff and faculty.

Nationally, 19 states and the District of Columbia protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.