Gender neutral bathrooms open on campus

By Frank Portillo

In compliance with Assembly Bill-1732, single-use bathrooms have been made available on campus during the 2017 Summer semester.

The bill was signed by governor Jerry Brown last September and “requires all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities, as specified.

It also “authorizes inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance with these provisions during any inspection.”

The new restrooms offer more privacy because of the exclusion of multiple stalls.

They replaced a portion of restrooms that were designated for staff and faculty members.

Because of this, Director of College Facilities Abel Rodriguez said the integration of the restrooms have elicited both positive and negative reactions.

Not citing any person in particular, Rodriguez said that objections to the restrooms have been vocalized at different committee meetings.

The objections stem from the loss of exclusivity, but Rodriguez suggests that the staff and faculty members aren’t losing anything. He compares the situation to a student losing their favorite seat in a class.

He explained a scenario which contained a student being upset about another sitting in their favorite seat.

He said that the seat doesn’t belong to the angry student and, therefore, the student should not be angry when they lose the privilege of using it.

Some of the students, however, have taken the new facilities as a form of safe haven on campus. 

Jacia Cortez, student worker at the Dream Resource Center, identifies as a member of the LGBT community and feels strongly about the new facilities.

Given her physical appearance, she feels the gaze of people as they double take.

“I’m usually in slacks, a button up shirt, with my hair done up in a bun. I dress like a man and most people, when I go to the bathroom they’re always like ‘Oh, am I in the right bathroom?’ They would give me nasty stares or they would wait outside until I would leave. That’s why we need (the bathrooms),” Cortez said.

Cortez discovered the restrooms when Brian Barrick, Student Services Specialist, brought them to her attention.

She said he made her feel comfortable by showing her the way to the restroom and states the need for more staff members like Barrick, who goes above and beyond to assist students.

She spoke about waiting all day to use the restroom at her house because of how uncomfortable other students made her and how it affected her studying abilities.

She also talked about the dangers that are faced from LGBT members in restrooms and says that most violence occurs in the privacy of a restroom.

Cortez said she understands the reasoning for the objection of the new restrooms but feels as if the evolution is integral to inclusiveness on campus.

“This is something that’s needed and not just for attention. It’s not because we’re being picky or feeling entitled. It’s not about that. We need to use the restroom and that’s should be something that we shouldn’t be scared to do,” Cortez said.

As someone who identifies as a member of the LGBT community, Cortez appreciates the inclusion the new clubs and Safe Zone Alliance as a progression in tolerance.

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