What is the Gender Neutral Bathroom Initiative?
The Gender Neutral Bathrooms Initiative is a project to address the lack of gender neutral bathrooms in Vassar’s academic and administrative buildings. In order to ensure that all students have a place where they feel safe using the bathroom, we want to make sure that there is at least one accessible gender neutral bathroom in each academic and administrative building. Currently, there are 13 buildings on campus have no gender neutral bathroom option. The goal is not to turn every bathroom gender neutral, but make sure that everybody has a choice in each building.
Why do we need Gender Neutral Bathrooms?
There are many students (trans students, gender-nonconforming students, etc.) who do not feel safe in single-gender bathrooms. In addition to psychological affects such as anxiety and fear of harassment, students who feel unsafe in single-gender bathrooms can risk UTIs and other medical problems. All students are at their best academically and socially when they can access safe spaces on campus, and increasing the number of gender neutral bathrooms is a way to provide more safety. Further, Vassar’s non-discrimination policy includes gender identity and expression as a protected class, and gender neutral bathrooms are one way we live up to that policy.
Common Myths about Gender-Neutral Bathrooms:
Myth #1: There is no difference between a Gender Neutral Bathroom and a Co-Ed bathroom.
Fact: A co-ed bathroom acknowledges only male and female whereas a Gender Neutral Bathroom acknowledges the reality of multiple gender identities.
Myth #2: Assault and harassment is a more common occurrence in Gender Neutral Bathrooms.
Fact: Assaulters and harassers are not stopped by signs and will assault/harass regardless of whether or not a bathroom is gendered. Trans people actually risk MORE assault and harassment within gendered bathrooms than cisgender people.
Myth #3: Gendered bathrooms are being completely removed from the campus. I will not have a choice.
Fact: The point of this project is to provide everyone with a choice in academic and administrative buildings, and so that everyone has access to a bathroom where they can feel safe. Gender identity and expression is built into and protected under Vassar’s non-discrimination policy, yet currently trans and gender-nonconforming students and employees are not provided a choice for bathroom safety and comfort in 13 academic and administrative buildings.
Who is a part of the Gender Neutral Bathroom Working Group?
- Director for the Campus Life LGBTQ Center & Women's Center - Judy Jarvis
- Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity - Ed Pittman
- Acting Dean of the College - Eve Dunbar
- Vice President of Finance and Administration - Bob Walton
- Dean of Strategic Planning - Marianne Begemann
- Executive Director of Buildings and Grounds - Thomas Allen
- Assistant Professor of English - Hiram Perez
- VSA VP for Student Life - Danny Dones ’16
- LGBTQ Center Intern - Willow Carter ’15
What’s next for the Gender Neutral Bathroom Initiative?
Phase I: Overall goal: improve signage, increase awareness
- Replace all current ‘co-ed’ bathroom signs with gender neutral bathroom signs (almost completed!)
- Install gender neutral bathroom signs on current single-occupancy restrooms (in progress!)
- Do campus-wide education efforts (in progress!)
- Have the College commit to building at least one accessible GNB in every new and/or renovated buildings
- Timeline: spring 2014
Phase II: Overall goal: Ensure that all buildings on campus have at least one accessible gender neutral bathroom
- Make individual plans for each of the 13 academic and administrative buildings that currently have no gender neutral bathrooms to modify or create at least one accessible gender neutral bathroom, In consultation with employees who oversee and use the facilities
- College acts on commitment to building at least one accessible GNB in every new and/or renovated buildings
- Timeline: fall 2014/spring 2015 and beyond
How can I get involved?
If you are interested in getting involved with the project, please contact LGBTQ Center Director Judy Jarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org.