Campus Beat Reporter
In an effort to increase campus accessibility, the University of California, Santa Barbara has announced the installation of 60 new single-stall gender-inclusive restrooms across campus.
The restrooms, located in over 50 university-owned buildings throughout campus and Isla Vista, are the result of a two-year-old policy agreed upon in 2014 by UC President Janet Napolitano.
“The idea is to pull back wherever we are purposefully gendering space when it doesn’t necessarily have a use,” said Associate Director of UCSB’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity in a statement released by the Office of Public Affairs and Communications. “This is not only for utility but also because many people don’t identify within the gender binary, and even if they do, often times they don’t feel safe using those gendered spaces.”
Labeled “men” and “women” restroom signs are replaced with gender-inclusive signage — the melding of triangles and circles to symbolize open usage for all identities. A detailed online map of the restrooms, with buildings shaded in dark green and restrooms marked with red dots, is now available.
“This establishment encourages students to not only discuss identity development, but also serves to highlight the importance of developing communities where students are able to best express themselves without fear of judgement,” said fourth year psychology major and San Nicolas resident assistant Ruth Quintanilla, whose residence hall was one of the first buildings on campus to introduce its very own gender neutral bathroom. Other buildings fitted with gender-inclusive bathrooms are El Centro and the Student Resource Building,
In addition to the 60 new restrooms, the university will soon be installing a ground floor “multiuse gender-inclusive facility with two urinals and two stalls”, according to the Office of Public Affairs and Communication statement. Technology is an important part of the effort as well. Campus buildings will soon be outfitted with QR codes that provide users with the location of the nearest gender-inclusive restroom when scanned with a smartphone.
Though Queer Commission agrees that this restroom revamp is a step in the right direction towards a more inclusive campus, they also believe that gender inclusive bathrooms are a basic right that should already be given.
“Having the same basic right to find, access, and use restrooms in peace without having to worry about your mental and physical safety is something that everyone on campus should innately have,” said Queer Commission co-chair Justice Dumlao in a statement issued on the organization’s behalf.
And even in acknowledging the victory, Queer Commission is quick to remind the UCSB community that true acceptance and understanding of the trans community must come from education, not from a quick bathroom fix.
“People will not and cannot be educated through the small victories of the Trans community,” said Dumlao in the issued statement. “That being said, most people on campus will just see this as a new bathroom label and will not understand the importance and necessity of these restrooms. If people want to learn more about issues the trans community faces they should do so by taking it upon themselves to get educated.”