Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Aim For Inclusiveness

GABBY HARTZE | THE SPECTRUM The Aquatic Center is set to be completed by fall 2016. It will include male, female and gender neutral bathrooms.
The Aquatic Center is set to be completed by fall 2016. It will include male, female and gender neutral bathrooms.

North Dakota State is adding more gender-neutral facilities in new buildings and in renovations being done to existing buildings.

The gender-neutral bathrooms allow access to students who identify as the opposite gender from what they were born as, along with those going through gender reassignment or are pursuing gender reassignment. The STEM building contains two gender neutral bathrooms. A majority of halls across campus contain at least one gender-neutral restroom, and residence halls contain gender-neutral facilities.

In 2011, Residence Life implemented a diversity committee initiative that was to transition 15 bathrooms in residence halls to gender neutral restrooms. NDSU also provides a Google map that students can use to see where gender neutral facilities are located so they can find the facilities they want.

The Wellness Center says it is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment, and there are some guidelines already in effect to help people to feel comfortable.

One of those is that anyone shall have access to the locker room and restroom facilities that corresponds to their gender identity and gender presentation. For those students who are pursuing gender reassignment, or are in the process of gender reassignment, gender-neutral facilities are advised until the gender presentation reflects the gender identity of the individual.

The movement has been met with mixed reactions.

Samantha Doeden, a freshman in interior design, said gender-neutral facilities “should be placed in various places” and be available, but not all facilities should be gender-neutral.

Ann Burnett, head of woman and gender studies, said that “the Aquatic Center is being progressive” by including for gender-neutral bathrooms.

Kara Gravley-Stack, director of diversity initiatives and coordinator of LGBTQ programs, told The Spectrum last fall that the Aquatic Center is “creating a safe and inclusive space for all members” on campus. The gender-neutral facilities will be single occupancy and will be open to all, as the facilities will be able to provide privacy.

Gravley-Stack also told The Spectrum that NDSU has “seen an increasing number of transgender students who wish to be active and fully participate in college life.”

“It’s unfortunate that some cisgender people have such trouble with others who wish to use the bathroom that matches their gender,” Burnett said.

Corinna Evoniuk, a freshman in criminal justice, said, “It’s all about an individual’s comfort.”

Miranda Pautzke, a freshman in English education, said, “Change is in the air, and people are feeling more and more comfortable with being who they truly are,” demonstrating how the majority of students are becoming more open to gender-inclusive facilities.

The Aquatic Center is poised to open in fall 2016.

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