Posted January 31, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

GSU Push For Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Geoduck Student Union (GSU) representatives began work on a multiple-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms bill for upper campus at the beginning of the 2012-2013 year. “Upper campus” encompasses Evergreen’s public and educational facilities, while “lower campus” refers to the student housing areas. The two areas have separate facilities management and student government organizations. The Greener Organization (GO) represents student housing interests while the GSU attends to upper campus issues.

Last school year, Kat Houston, a Services & Activities Board representative and coordinator for the student group  Trans* Resource and Education Xtravaganza (T*REX), collaborated with Kevin Cortez, Social Justice Coordinator for the GO, to establish multiple occupancy gender-neutral restrooms in the Housing Community Center.

The GSU voted to pass a bill for similar bathrooms on the second floor of the CAB during the second week of the current academic year. “It was a great opportunity to put this in the upper campus just like they did on lower campus…It’s just a matter of scraping down one sign and putting up another,” said Donald Gribbons, GSU member.

Campus renovations in 2009 implemented plans to install single occupancy restrooms across upper campus, according to Gribbons. In 2006, the Design Committee responsible for the plans, which included students as well as staff, addressed “LGBT and transgender issues” in a discussion on single use restrooms in relation to future renovations, according to Paul Smith of Facilities.

According to Cheshire, a male-identified member of T*REX, “There’s still not access in every building for [gender-neutral bathrooms]. There’s still the question, as a trans* person, to stand along the bathrooms and ask ‘which one am I gonna use?”

Gribbons said, “The day we passed it, I told T*REX that we passed the initiative and that we were gonna push forward and that we would make sure that this happens.” Gribbons and fellow GSU member Paige Jones met with Facilities Manager, Paul Smith, to discuss the possibility of changing the signage on the CAB’s second floor restrooms.

When they mentioned the positive student response to the HCC renovation, Smith said, that’s the first he had heard of it, “because they don’t have to check with me to do anything like that down in housing. And then I indicated to them that it posed some issues up on the upper campus. It’s more than just students up on upper campus. The public use poses an issue. Also, we have to watch out for how the county counts fixtures, because we could be in violation of code,” said Smith.

“The issue is that the building codes are very unspecific,” said Gribbons.

According to the recent Cooper Point Journal article “Student Group Spotlight: Geoduck Student Union,” Houston and Gribbons are “working…to put together a legislative proposal for the Washington Student Association [to then] petition the Attorney General of the State of Washington about clarification on where the law stands [on multiple-use gender-neutral bathrooms].” Houston and Gribbons hope to set a clear precedent for the legality of inclusive facility policy on Washington State’s public campuses.

By Cassandra Johnson-Villalobos