Unisex bathrooms in UC excellent step to address GLBTIQ concerns
Transgender students and the GLBITQ community have voiced concerns with the current bathroom situation in the University Center. They feel that a simple male or female choice does not adequately address their needs. Having to choose between male and female bathrooms and locker rooms presents them with a problem that they do not feel they should have to face. Transgender students do not identify with the standard societal definitions of male and female and can may uncomfortable being in either bathroom.
Student Body Vice-President Julie Beckenstein is taking the right steps in advocating for the existence of a unisex bathroom in the University Center. This is a low-cost solution to the problem. This endeavor is something that the University should pursue more diligently.
Unisex bathrooms may be better described as genderless bathrooms. The bathroom is intended for use by a single person, with a lock on the door. This bathroom would be available for use for any member of the CMU community, and would decrease waiting time for a bathroom by having several that served not only transgender students, but the male and female populations as well.
The best solution to this problem is to have a place where students can change or go to the bathroom alone. A single-use bathroom would address these needs, as well as address other concerns faced by the campus community including the problems faced by parents with small children. A single-use genderless bathroom would be available to all students and would exclude no one.
Such a bathroom could be created very inexpensively. There exist bathrooms on the third floor and basement of the UC which have particularly low traffic. Putting a privacy lock on the exterior door of one of these bathrooms would convert it into a unisex bathroom. There is no need to address issues of plumbing, construction, or relocation.
Furthermore, nobody would be displaced as the original users of these bathrooms would still be able to use them. The only potential problem would be the loss of capacity in these bathrooms, which could result in a short wait to use them.
There are already bathrooms on the second floor of the UC that meet the description of a unisex bathroom. There are two in the seldom-used hallway to the left of the Deli across from the Grab ?n Go. One is labeled male and the other, female. This situation is not optimal because if there are two females or two males looking to use the restroom, one would be expected to wait for the other to finish instead of using the bathroom presently labeled for the other sex despite the fact that it is the exact same single toilet and sink setup. So long as this is the case, those gender restrictive signs serve absolutely no purpose and can be taken down.
While there are unisex bathrooms in other parts of the campus, there should be one in the UC. The University Center belongs to the students and should address their needs. Unisex bathrooms are a simple and elegant solution; the University should move ahead with it.