Gender Inclusive Restrooms: Dos and Don’ts

By Genny Beemyn, Ph.D.YorkUniversityWashroom

Are you working to increase the number of gender inclusive/all-gender restrooms on your campus? Have you thought about the use of language, signage, and privacy/safety? The following list is a quick rundown of “dos” and “don’ts” for creating the ideal gender inclusive restroom.

Accessibility

  • Restrooms should be wheelchair accessible and have changing tables, and the signage should indicate these facts.  
  • Signage should be in Braille.

Sign wording

  • Restroom signs should say “all-gender restroom” or just “restroom” and not “gender-neutral restroom” (the point is to be inclusive, not to “neutralize” gender), “unisex restroom” (which literally means “one sex”), or “family restroom” (these restrooms are not just for families).

Sign images

  • Restroom signs should not use the male and female stick figures (which leaves out non-binary people), the half-male/half-female stick figure (most trans people do not see themselves as between male and female), or the trans symbol (these restrooms are not just for trans people).
  • If any symbol is used (beyond the wheelchair symbol for accessible restrooms), it should be a toilet symbol.

Single-stall restrooms

  • All restrooms that have a single set of fixtures (a toilet or a toilet and urinal), should be made gender-inclusive by removing the urinal and changing the signage from “men’s room” or “women’s room” to “restroom” or “all-gender restroom.”

Multi-stall restrooms

  • Each stall should be floor to ceiling to ensure privacy (selfie sticks could be used otherwise), which means that each stall needs ventilation and a sprinkler.
  • Each stall should include a toilet (not a urinal) and have some means to indicate that the stall is occupied or unoccupied.

 

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