[Signatories from FAU are encouraged to include their title and major/department at the University when they sign the petition (for example, “John Doe, B.A. Student, English, FAU”).]
Dear President John Kelly, Interim Vice President and Dean of Students Corey King, University Architect and Vice President for Facilities Tom Donaudy, Dean Heather Coltman, and Members of the Administration at Florida Atlantic University:
We, the undersigned, are petitioning the University to make its restrooms more trans-accessible. Since “the University recognizes its obligation to work towards a community in which diversity is valued and opportunity is equalized” (http://www.fau.edu/cdc/flyers/anti_discriminal.pdf), it must work toward providing transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) students with an environment that is safe and responsive to their needs. At a most basic level, safe and accessible restroom facilities should be available to all students.
TGNC people are diverse. Some were assigned female at birth but have male identities; others were assigned male at birth but have female identities. Many experience their genders as nonbinary or fluid. Regardless of their gender identities, a broad spectrum of people embody or express their genders in ways that do not fit neatly into the categories of “female” or “male,” “feminine” or “masculine.”
For TGNC people, restroom access is an issue of equity, safety and health. Many TGNC people feel humiliated when they are forced to use restrooms that do not correspond with their gender identities. Moreover, many TGNC people face hostility and discrimination in restrooms due to bias. One such experience on campus was recently reported to the FAU administration by an FAU student. Attempting to avoid such experiences, many TGNC people develop infections and diseases from insufficiently frequent restroom use.
Gender-neutral restrooms create safer spaces for TGNC people. Currently, FAU has 23 gender-neutral public restrooms. However, students may be entirely unaware of the existence of these restrooms: they are not mentioned in the 2013–2014 student handbook; they are not indicated on any campus map; they are not listed anywhere on the University’s website. Even when students know the locations of these restrooms, they may be unable to reach them in a reasonable amount of time: many buildings do not have a central, accessible, gender-neutral restroom.
In response to these issues, we are asking for the University to take the following five steps:
(1) Make a directory of single-stall public restrooms on campus available in the student handbook and on the University’s website. This directory could be thought of as comparable to the listing of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) facilities for a building. To help with this step, we are attaching a student-made directory of single-stall public restrooms on campus to this petition.
(2) Clearly designate all single-stall public restrooms on campus as gender-neutral. Exceptions may be made for single-stall restrooms that cannot be accessed unless one walks through a gender-segregated multi-stall restroom, as in General Classroom South.
(3) Convert some of the multi-stall restrooms on campus from gender-segregated to gender-neutral, with the goal of having at least one central, accessible, gender-neutral restroom in every building.
(4) Consider the need for gender-neutral restrooms in any new campus construction plans.
(5) The goal of the first four steps is to create safer spaces for TGNC students, not to burden them. In some cases, TGNC women may prefer to use women’s rooms and TGNC men, men’s. In these cases, TGNC students would be unjustly burdened if the University were to bar them from women’s and men’s rooms. Therefore, in conjunction with the first four steps, the University should recognize the right of TGNC people to access available restrooms that correspond with their gender identities.
Implementing these steps would allow the University to achieve the following five goals:
(1) It would make the University’s restrooms more accessible for a wide range of social groups, including TGNC people, people with disabilities, people accompanied by attendants, parents with children, and people with privacy needs.
(2) It would bring the University’s actions and policies into alignment with the best practices recommended by leading experts, such as Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
(3) It would bring the University into alignment with more than 150 colleges and universities that have implemented similar measures. For example, Ohio University, New York University, the University of California and the University of Colorado list gender-neutral restrooms on their websites.
(4) It would allow the University to improve its standing on the Campus Pride Index (http://www.campusprideindex.org).
(5) Given the 2014 selection of John Kelly as the University’s seventh President and President Kelly’s recent restructuring of the administration, this petition represents an opportunity for the new administration: by implementing the steps outlined above, the new administration can demonstrate its commitment to listening to its constituents and responding affirmatively to their expressed needs.
As transgender and gender-nonconforming students and their allies, we, the undersigned individuals, urge Florida Atlantic University’s administration to make the University’s restrooms more trans-accessible. We look forward to your response and offer our assistance with your deliberations on this matter.