Gender neutral restroom gives population a ‘safe zone’ on campus

ADA compliance prompts single occupant facility


By Michael Santone, News Editor

There is nothing more daunting for someone who is transitioning than using the rest room, especially in a public atmosphere like a college campus.

And Contra Costa College is slightly ahead of the curve with offering a single occupant rest room in the General Education Building whose signage reflects its ADA compliance for both male and female genders.

But with new legislation requiring single occupant rest rooms to be designated “all gender” by March 1, 2017, the men’s and women’s symbols that now adorn the rest room might face an update for all gender specification.

Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said, “The single occupancy rest room on the second floor of the GE Building is currently gender neutral and has signage that indicates such.”

Gilkerson, who has been working with faculty and staff on the issues surrounding the rest room, said it has not been determined how the signs will read or when the changes will be implemented.

Business major Christian Sanchez, who is transitioning from female to male, said at first, the signage was confusing because he wasn’t sure if it was inclusive.

But once he understood it, he was able to use the bathroom in confidence.

“I feel it’s a progressive thing to include single occupant rest rooms since it takes awhile to adjust,” he said.

“I’m aware of people staring and questioning. It’s a peace of mind when a trip to the bathroom goes as planned.”

Sanchez said as a (transgender) student, it’s something new to him.

“I don’t know of others who have similar stories of being told ‘you’re not a girl, wrong bathroom,’” he said.

He said all gender bathrooms alleviate pressure on transition and preference.

“It should be a safe zone for anyone who doesn’t want to face the critics and judgment because who they want to be doesn’t match their assigned gender,” Sanchez said.

Health and human services department Chairperson Aminta Mickles said there are several mandates with regard to all gender rest rooms that are being passed.

“I just went to a training on this same subject. When I came back to the campus, I realized we really don’t have one,” she said. “People have a right to choose. How is it considered a place people can feel comfortable if we can’t accommodate (transgender people)?”

Mickles said the college has to do something about it.

“I don’t care what it’s called. People just need comfort,” she said.

Assembly Bill 1732, which mandates “all gender” rest rooms, passed 55-15 back in August.

It requires businesses, places of public accommodation or state and local government agencies that offer single user toilet facilities to be replaced with all gender signs.

A “single-user toilet facility” is defined as a rest room with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said there is only one rest room of this kind on campus, the one in the GE Building.

But it is not identified or labeled as an all gender bathroom.

King said he was unaware of the new changes that will be implemented come March.

“It won’t cost much to change the signage for the one rest room in the GE Building,” he said.

“Our school is very diverse and that includes transgender students. We must do everything we can do to make them feel welcome.”