Gender Neutral Bathrooms at CSI

Posted by – April 21, 2010

The College of Staten Island is making some of their restrooms unisex, or gender neutral. It’s not particularly tricky: they’re putting signs on the doors of both male & female stick figures, add a lock to the main door and a sign letting people know they can use the gender neutral bathroom as a single-use, private one.

Amazingly uncomplicated, and as the article points out, useful for more than people whose genders are in flux, fluid, or trans: a father who has to change his daughter’s diaper, for instance, doesn’t have to worry about finding a family bathroom, either.

(h/t to Darryl Hill, who is also mentioned in the article)

2 Comments on Gender Neutral Bathrooms at CSI

  1. Zoë Suzanna says:

    I just saw our local Whole foods went to gender neutral bathrooms too!

  2. Darryl Hill says:

    Thanks to Helen for giving this issue a focus!

    For those who might be interested, my correspondence with the journalist in the story was entirely over email. So here are some excerpts from my email, so you can see what she focused on, and what she ignored.

    I wrote to Ms. Padnani:

    “I see the provision of gender-neutral restrooms as a civil rights issue. Both the City of New York, and City University of New York’s non-discrimination policies prohibit discrimination based on “gender identity.” The lack of gender neutral facilities is a violation of these policies. [...] The New York Board of Education similarly has a Student Bill of Rights that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

    The CSI community is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and diverse as we attract more and more students from across the five boroughs, and faculty from across the world. I have personally worked with students who identify as trans at CSI. I expect that at CSI, as with other campuses across the nation, we will increasingly see more trans-identified students. [...] There are also many faculty from across the City University of New York system who are trans-identified. We have to respond to their needs and provide a safe environment for their students and work.

    For students and faculty whose gender is not easily identifiable, who present their gender in a manner that might confuse someone (such as a masculine woman or a feminine man), the campus is a very inhospitable place—there are only two restrooms on the entire campus available for them (both are single use “handicap” restrooms located far away from classrooms). There are no gender neutral change rooms at the sports center, and obviously, locker rooms and restrooms can be dangerous places for those who do not pass as one gender or the other. If the plans for on-campus residences come to fruition, we will have trans-identified students who will be living on campus and need gender neutral facilities. [...]

    I am entirely in favor of CSI’s efforts to accommodate diversity in their students and staff with this change. Over a year ago, I lobbied for such changes, and found sympathetic ears throughout our campus. Our Vice President of Finance and Administration Milton Santiago responded with this recent initiative. I believe this puts CSI at the forefront of approximately 50 (at last count) progressive educational institutions, including some of the best and biggest schools, across the nation that are doing the same thing.”

    Darryl Hill
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    College of Staten Island
    City University of New York

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