In January, the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) sent a letter to President Waded Cruzado with a list of requests to make the campus more inclusive for people of all genders, sex and sexual orientation. One of those demands was to “establish a gender-neutral bathroom in each campus building,” and Campus Planning, Design and Construction is currently addressing the issue.
“We worked with University Facilities and have established a process to change over 20 bathrooms to gender-neutral bathrooms by the end of the semester,” said Alex Paterson, the QSA president. QSA had initially found ten bathrooms to convert, but “facilities went above and beyond, and found around 28 other bathrooms,” Paterson said. “That’s evidence that the university is listening and going above and beyond what’s not only legally required, but really what is ethically required,” Dean of Students Matt Caires said.
“We’ve been working for years to comply with ADA (the American Disabilities Act),” Caires said. “That’s a law, and it’s really hard to retrofit buildings to do that. There is no federal law that governs gender neutral bathrooms. We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do. We want an environment that says ‘you’re welcome [at MSU].’”
How does one go about establishing gender-neutral bathrooms? Paterson said all you need is a “single-stall facility where just one person uses the restroom at a time.” Right now most say women or men. It’s just a matter of putting up a different sign. “The historical sign for identifying all-gender bathrooms usually has been the male, female symbol with the line in between,” said Director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction Walter Banziger. “[QSA] was looking for something more inclusive, and we agreed. We found [a sign] that we liked and got it approved, and we will be swapping the old signs out with this new one.” The signs should arrive early to mid-May, and the actual exchange should happen during the summer.