BY LINDSEY HAZLETT | PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMAIDAN
Edgewood College has installed gender-inclusive restrooms in residence halls and academic buildings around campus.
These restrooms, some single-stalled and others multi-stalled with showers, are available to be used by any student or faculty member, of any and all gender identities.
The installation of these restrooms occurred rapidly. It was strongly expressed in the 2016 Campus Climate Survey administered last spring that the majority of faculty, staff, and students supported gender-inclusive bathrooms. Their integration was noted as a necessary step to take, and Edgewood followed through immediately.
Holland “Hollie” McCrea Olson, an Area Hall Director in Residence Life, said, “Last year, Residence Life piloted a community gender-inclusive restroom on the first floor of East Regina. That pilot went really well, and we were happy to add two more community gender inclusive restrooms on the second and third floors.”
Single-stall gender-neutral restrooms now may be found in Marshall and Dominican Halls, between East and West Regina lobbies, and in Phil’s Diner. Multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms are also now available on all floors of East Regina.
The multi-stall restrooms are labeled with temporary paper signs as gender-inclusive, though they have official wall plaques merely reading “restroom.” Those with single stalls are marked with the traditional “family” logo.
Edgewood College does support transgender students’ use of restrooms that align with their identity, not just the gender-inclusive bathrooms, which is stated on the Office of Student Inclusion and Involvement website: “We encourage you to use the restroom that best fits your gender identity or expression.” This site also reiterates that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students in housing and restroom use.
“Ensuring that all students regardless of gender identity feel at home, safe, and included in the Edgewood community is vastly important,” McCrea Olson followed.
Amir Franklin, president of the student organization SAFE, said, “Edgewood has done well and has taken steps to help and protect the LGBT community, but I still feel that more can always be done.” Franklin continues, “[the restrooms] are critical for reasons even beyond supporting transgender and gender nonconforming students. They force others to think about gender in a non-binary way.”
Student organizations and groups have taken other more discreet initiatives in helping LGBTQ+ students and allies feel comfortable and supported on campus.
An entirely-confidential Queer Peer Mentoring program is available through Personal Counseling.
SAFE– a student-run organization focusing on creating and networking support in the LGBT community– recently made its appearance once again, and most notably, the potential for gender-inclusive housing is becoming more and more plausible in the upcoming years. Few universities have taken this last step.
McCrea Olson said enthusiastically, “From my vantage point, I have not been made aware of any backlash. In fact, any students who have talked with me about the gender inclusive restrooms have shared their support and gratitude for having them in East Regina.”
According to Katy Steinmetz, a writer for Time.com, over 150 universities around the country have also implemented gender-inclusive restrooms.