With the visit of Janet Mock last semester, transgender identity and gender neutrality in general has become a hot topic on campus. A group of Weber State University students have been taking the issue further in their own way by petitioning for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
Traditional Student Senator Amber Fast was the first to support a petition, which has now reached 200 signatures and is one of the main participants that is championing for its success.
Last fall, Fast was approached by a student and was asked if she would be willing to work on getting gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
“I said I was more than glad to help the student and the student demographic that fell under. The student responded by hugging me and thanking me,” Fast said.
Soon after, the student, Fast and LGBT Resource Center Coordinator Jayson Stokes started the petition, and it was presented at the LGBT Resource Fair.
Gender neutral bathrooms have not just been a subject here at Weber State. Numerous places across the country, including other campuses, have been pushing forward with the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms.
According to research done by The Stonewall Center, University of Massachusetts’s LGBTQ organization, there are over 150 campuses across the country that have gender-neutral bathrooms. Many universities are renaming their “Family Restrooms” to “All Gender” restrooms.
The drive to accommodate for gender-neutral bathrooms comes from safety and comfort concerns in the LGBTQ community. In an article done by Jody L. Herman for the UCLA School of Law, Herman notes that a study performed in 2002 noted that “out of 116 responses from those who did not identify as male or female, 48 people took the time to write out specific [public] bathroom experiences, all negative. These experiences ranged from harassment to violence to getting fired.”
Weber State has yet to institute any gender-neutral bathrooms, but that is what Fast and her petition is attempting to achieve.
“Our long-term goal is to switch all the Family and Unisex restrooms to Gender Neutral,” Fast said. “Our medium-term goal is to have all new building plans to include gender neutral bathrooms. Our long-term is to build gender neutral bathrooms in new buildings.”
Fast says they have the unofficial support from the administration as well as the WSUSA Senate, LGBT Center, Diversity Center, GSA, as well as students and other departments both on and off campus.
“I would like the student population to see that, whether or not they agree with the LGBT community, we are all students here at Weber State University. Every student has the right to feel safe at their campus, whether it be based on sex, gender, race or disability. We are all human beings underneath our labels.”