The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

A look at gender-neutral bathrooms on campus

Gender neutral bathrooms have been placed in Skillman Library and also exist in a number of other buildings on campus. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25)

One diversity initiative the college has created over the last few years has been to add more gender-neutral bathrooms to the campus. Recently, Skillman Library designated some of the bathrooms as gender-neutral this past January.

Some students are pleased with the addition of these bathrooms in Skillman, as well as other locations on campus.

“I think…[gender-neutral bathrooms] have been helpful because people are definitely talking more about gender-neutral bathrooms and their importance,” Areanna Pumayugra ‘25 said. “Whenever I don’t feel comfortable using the gendered bathrooms and I know the gender-neutral bathrooms are on the floor I’m in, it makes me feel comfortable and like my gender is acknowledged and heard.”

Thomas Lee, assistant director for Gender & Sexuality Programs, emphasized the importance of gender-neutral bathrooms and inclusivity. 

“Trans and gender-variant people in particular face severe access problems when it comes to sex-segregated facilities like restrooms, and they should not have to fear violence or harassment as a result of entering these facilities,” Lee said.

Lee also highlighted how single-stalled or gender-neutral bathrooms are multifunctional as they benefit a variety of people. 

“Gender-neutral bathrooms are a practical and important way to provide safe, private facilities to transgender, non-binary and other gender-nonconforming people as well as elderly people, families with small children and people with disabilities who may need assistance,” Lee said.

He added that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires all newly installed bathrooms to be accessible, is easy to comply with when creating single-stall bathrooms.

“In recent decades, single-stall restrooms more easily meet the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Lee said. “Ultimately, they can be used by people of any gender identity and provide a restroom where one can feel more comfortable.”

This is not the first time gender-neutral bathrooms have been added to the campus. In 2018, 50 bathrooms around campus were labeled as gender-neutral. The Diversity Faculty Committee and Dean of Equity and Inclusion at the time, Chris Hunt, spearheaded the endeavor.

A private architect firm, ALMA Architecture, was hired to assess the logistics of single-use bathrooms that promote gender inclusivity.

The creation of gender-neutral bathrooms has been received positively by many students, but others feel that there still is a lack of accessibility of gender-neutral facilities on campus.

“I think [gender neutral bathrooms] would be more accessible if there were more of them and if they were in every single building because if one is occupied, I have to use gendered bathrooms,” Pumayugra said. 

“There is more work to be done on campus when it comes to gender-noncomforming bathrooms on campus. There’s only a select few buildings that do have them, and even those buildings have one or two bathrooms at max. Bathrooms that have multiple gender-neutral bathrooms are residence halls and those are just single bathrooms,” Josh Joseph ’24, president of Queer People of Color said. 

One of the solutions proposed by Joseph and other students is removing gendered bathrooms entirely in buildings and encouraging the implementation of more single-stalled restrooms. 

“Multiple schools have completely gotten rid of gendered bathrooms,” Joseph said. “There are large bathrooms with multiple stalls that can be used by all students regardless of gender. Their schools have put this into place years before the conversation began.” 

Joseph added that queer and nonbinary students often lead these discussions about institutional changes but should not be the only ones working toward these changes.

“We need to be at the forefront of the fight because we’re the ones that have been doing the heavy lifting for so long and at this school, we’re the ones looking out for one another,” Joseph said. “That doesn’t mean that we should be the only ones fighting, because we do need allies in the end.”

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About the Contributor
Onab Falak, Staff News Writer
Onab is a junior from Alexandria, Virginia that is currently double majoring in Government and Law and International Affairs. Her minor will be a surprise to everyone, even herself. She can be very indecisive (but the good kind). Besides being a staff writer for the newspaper, she is a member of Student Government, a Posse Scholar, McKelvy Scholar and coordinator for Kaleidoscope! In her spare moments, she’s usually journaling in the McKelvy gardens or reading books in the study in between passionate arguments with her peers. When she’s not at home, she can be found running around campus regretting how many activities she decided to be involved in or at Mojos drinking her daily iced coffee. 

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