Shore Hall introduces first gender-neutral bathroom

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Shore Hall introduces first gender-neutral bathroom

Lisa Robbins/Guilfordian

Lisa Robbins/Guilfordian

Lisa Robbins/Guilfordian

Deciding which bathroom to use is typically an easy choice for students to make.  “Girls” go into the bathroom labeled “girls,” and “boys” go into the bathroom labeled “boys,” but for students that don’t fit this gender binary as easily, that decision becomes harder.

Junior and Trans*Action president James Escobedo believes that not having a gender neutral bathroom can be dangerous.

“Sometimes it’s not very safe for a trans* student to go into either a male or female bathroom,” said Escobedo.

Shore Hall Director Kristie Wyatt discussed how the bathroom came to be in an email interview.

“The gender-neutral bathroom was born out of a community meeting initiated by two of my residents in Shore Hall, and the building’s overall interest made the Honors Hall a great place to start this project,” said Wyatt.

Escobedo elaborated further on the steps that needed to be taken.

“We went through Trans*Action,” said Escobedo. “We’re a club for trans* identifying students.  We came up with a plan of action for getting a gender-neutral bathroom.”

While a gender-neutral bathroom is a step in the right direction, that’s all it is: a step.

“I still feel as though more steps should be taken, but it’s a good start,” said first-year Taylor Brown.

Admissions Director Andy Strickler believes a gender-neutral bathroom is a natural step our college should be taking.

“Gender-neutral bathrooms have been present on college campuses for at least two decades,” said Strickler in an email interview.  “My older brother started college in 1987, and his alma mater had gender-neutral bathrooms from his first year.”

According to Brown, gender-neutral housing is next.

“What we’re trying to do is set up one of the theme houses as gender-neutral so students who come out as genderqueer or transitioning have a place to live instead of having to deal with buying out a single just so they can have that privacy,” said Brown. “They can have a place where they know they aren’t alone.”

“With transitioning, it’s really awkward to be around a person you don’t think is particularly queer friendly,” said junior and Pride Vice President Sidra Dillard.  “You’re doing a lot of stuff physically, and it’s awkward to have (a roommate) who can see it.”

As for the bathroom, whether a small step or a leap, students and faculty alike are extremely excited.

“I suspect it will impact a large number (of students) in the long term,” said Strickler.

Wyatt agreed.

“I am extremely excited about the new signage and inclusive nature of the gender-neutral bathroom and am looking forward to seeing the project expand throughout the campus,” said Wyatt.  “It has been a long time coming.”

Dillard is also looking forward to the new bathroom.

“I really like the sign that says ‘All bodies welcome,’” said Dillard. “That’s my favorite part. ‘All bodies welcome’ is a powerful concept. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like.”