Presence of gender-inclusive restrooms expands on campus

Meg Trogolo, Staff Writer

UVM has increased the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and plans to publish a map showing their locations by the end of the semester.

According to a Dec. 13 email from Vice Provost Annie Stevens, most on-campus buildings now have gender-neutral signs on single-stall restrooms.

Taft School, which is currently under renovation, will have single and multi-stall gender-inclusive restrooms, as will the new athletic center, which is set to begin construction in early 2019.

Some gender-specific restrooms in Mann Hall and Royall Tyler Theatre will be converted to gender-inclusive restrooms as well.

The Dec. 13 email listed a number of existing restrooms on campus which have been or are being converted to gender-inclusive restrooms.

There is not yet a public map of gender-inclusive restrooms on the UVM campus.

“Generally, UVM does a pretty good job with providing information about bathrooms, but until [the email], I didn’t know where on campus there were gender-neutral bathrooms,”  said first-year Hayden Rungren, who identifies as nonbinary.

In 2016, UVM established the Gender-Inclusive Restroom Task Force made up of administrators, LGBTQA Center staff and students.

The task force released a report in August 2016 detailing the status of gender-neutral restroom availability at UVM and suggesting courses of action to improve accessibility.

“The task force’s goal is to expand gender-inclusive restrooms across the campus, beginning with buildings that are in the most high-traffic areas,” Stevens said. “I believe the responses to this effort have been quite positive.”

Such high-traffic areas include Bailey/Howe Library, the Davis Center and the Waterman building, as well as most academic buildings, the UVM medical complex, and the Patrick/Forbush/Gutterson athletic complex, according to the report.

The task force recommended that UVM creates at least one gender-neutral multi-stall restroom in each campus building, the report stated.

Additionally, the task force suggested changing signage on all single-stall restrooms so that they are designated by accessibility and baby-changing facilities rather than gender, the report stated.

The report also suggested establishing standards for gender-neutral restrooms in all new construction, as well as communicating clearly with the UVM community about where on campus gender-neutral restrooms already exist and are being created.

Rungren said that using the gender-neutral bathrooms is easy and “not anxiety-inducing.”

Gender-inclusive restrooms have been the subject of nationwide debate in recent years.

In 2016, the Obama administration issued guidelines stating that public educational institutions should allow transgender students to use the restrooms that correspond with their gender identities.

In February 2017, however, the Trump administration rescinded those guidelines.