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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA considers gender-neutral bathroom stalls

    The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office is working to make some restrooms on campus gender-neutral, making them more welcoming and safe for parents with young children, people with caregivers and transgender individuals.

    The aim is to ensure convenient accommodations for all people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe using the existing gender-specific restrooms, regardless of their reasons, according to an EOAAO statement.

    Earlier this year, former President Peter Likins expressed support for the EOAAO bathroom access statement, which also garners continuing support from President Robert Shelton, said Jeanne Kleespie, assistant vice president of the EOAAO.

    “”It was put together as a proactive step against discrimination,”” Kleespie said.

    Kleespie said she hopes to have gender-neutral single-stall restrooms established by spring and will be evaluating potential locations in the coming month.

    Restrooms with multiple stalls may be more difficult to convert because of the cost of removing urinals, but the EOAAO will request financing from the Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.

    Transgender individuals who face difficulty choosing male or female restrooms and fear discrimination and violence will benefit from the conversion of campus facilities, said Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

    “”It’s something really core for folks and how they identify themselves,”” Spade said.

    Spade and his nonprofit organization developed and screened the film “”Toilet Training: Law and Order in the Bathroom,”” at Gallagher Theater yesterday as part of the Tucson Transgender Awareness Week.

    The film outlined problems transgender people encounter when choosing a restroom and the discrimination and fear they face because of more commonly accepted gender roles.

    The movie also showed the way many transgender people will avoid using public restrooms all together, which can result in possible health issues such as dehydration, kidney stones, urinary tract infections or kidney infections.

    It suggested solutions such as public, city-owned gender-neutral restrooms, gender-neutral facilities in the workplace, and education and awareness of the obstacles that transgender people face.

    Spade travels to universities to show the film and speak about transgender issues.

    “”Universities is where this is happening the most, and I haven’t been to a university where this conversation isn’t taking place,”” Spade said.

    The UA is the first university to have such a “”bathroom statement”” that promotes equality for all restroom needs for people with varying gender identities, said Jessica Pettitt, coordinator of social justice programs at the Social Justice Leadership Center.

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