WKU is opening its doors—bathroom doors—to the LGBT community with the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus this fall.
The university received recommendation from its professional architects to change the signs on previously all-family designated restrooms to all-gender restrooms in the Honors College, Gatton Academy, the Music Rehearsal Hall and Downing Student Union buildings.
“The new signs are good because so many people don’t fit in a certain gender, but it would benefit if they were in more buildings,” senior Katie Norris of Bowling Green said.
The plan to change the restroom signage to better accommodate all users was presented to WKU administration by a student during the 2014 fall semester.
These plans were then shared with the university community at a dinner hosted by President Gary Ransdell for WKU’s LGBT community.
Each restroom is equipped with a single toilet, sink and changing table—some restrooms also have urinals—to cater to every person. The importance of these restrooms is to provide privacy to a diverse body of students, staff and faculty.
Transgender junior London Chandler, from Louisville, noted that an either-or, boy-girl restroom system can be a difficult situation for people who do not identify with a specific gender. She added that gender-neutral bathrooms also make a positive change for people who do not identify with gender at all.
“This is a step toward housing good, positive places and this is going to be good for everybody,” Chandler said.
Gender-neutral restrooms are becoming more popular on college campuses across the U.S.
According to an article by the Huffington Post, “the number of gender-neutral bathrooms has grown in just the past few years, in city-run facilities, workplaces and, most commonly, college campuses.”
The article also estimated that more than 150 schools across the U.S. now have gender-neutral restrooms.
This movement has even made an impact at a more nationally recognized level: the White House is constructing its first gender-neutral restroom, a facility that will be available in April.
“People should feel comfortable using the restroom. This is one step to make campus and the world a better place,” Chandler said.
The change of the restroom signs can be beneficial not only to transgender students, but also to every student on campus.
“WKU is diverse. The signs help out the population and make everyone feel supported,” Kaylan Boyd, a freshman from Henderson, said.
The signs will also denote if the restroom is accessible to those with disabilities.
“I want people to be better educated about any difference. The bottom line about any kind of hatred is the lack of education,” Chandler said.
“We need small steps to help people realize that we are all human.”