Campus still lacks sufficient gender inclusive bathrooms

CAMPUS ISSUES: Increasing inclusivity on campus means making sure that gender inclusive bathrooms are commonplace and easily accessible, rather than hidden away.

Nobody should have to spend too much time figuring out which bathroom will make them feel most welcome. That’s why, by signing a bill    that requires all public single-use bathrooms be all-gender inclusive, Gov. Jerry Brown established that California will be on the right side of history and that the state will attempt to respect all members of its community.

The University of California, however, is autonomous from the state, meaning it’s unbeholden to and unaffected by this law. In terms of gender inclusivity, actually, the UC system is already ahead of the curve. A universitywide policy requiring gender-inclusive bathrooms in newly constructed buildings shows the university’s commitment to ensuring a future where gender-nonconforming people feel welcome. But both campuswide and statewide communities deserve faster progress.  

It’s important that the state now require single-use bathrooms to be gender inclusive, but the fact remains that most public bathrooms are multistalled. When laws are signed that make the state slightly more accessible without addressing more widespread instances, it shows that unnecessary politics continue to impede necessary progress.

And while all-gender bathrooms can already be found throughout campus, they need to be more prevalent and more accessible. As it stands, all-gender bathrooms on campus are often tucked away, whereas single-gender bathrooms exist on nearly every floor of every building.

In the residence halls, however, most bathrooms are already gender inclusive. So it doesn’t make sense that bathrooms near classrooms would be any different. While the campus has cited the financial obstacles of converting existing bathrooms to a gender-inclusive format, this obstacle needs to be overcome.

It would behoove the campus to ensure that all-gender bathrooms constitute the majority of bathrooms in both new and existing buildings, further exemplifying the openness and welcoming nature of the campus.

The campus and the state are only the beginning, though. Anybody who has sway in any kind of community group can call for greater inclusivity to very productive results. Just last year, the Reform Jewish leaders called for gender-inclusive bathrooms at their synagogues and community centers. Spreading this kind of inclusivity to other community and religious organizations would ensure that public legislation and policy aren’t the only driving forces in the battle for bathroom equality.  

While changes from state institutions and governments carry considerable weight, changes on individual business and community levels can also make a sizable impact.

So the state of California, Berkeley businesses, community groups, UC Berkeley and the entire UC system need to push forward until all members of our community feel empowered and enabled to use whatever bathroom they want.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this editorial may have implied that converting bathrooms to a gender-neutral format is only as easy as changing a sign. In fact, converting bathrooms also requires removing, adding or rearranging hardware such as urinals and full-length stall partitions.

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