‘Gender inclusive’ restrooms resolution put on hold

A new SGA resolution that would attempt to add more unisex bathrooms on campus was postponed until next week after an 18 to 11 vote.

The resolution, proposed by SGA Student Rights Secretary Elizabeth Ruwe and Senator Ellie Kremer, would try to gain unisex or “gender inclusive” restrooms in high-traffic areas on campus such as Steely Library and the Student Union. The SGA voted to postpone the resolution, allowing more time for Ruwe and Kremer to revise its details.

Prior to being postponed, a motion was made to recommit the resolution to committee, which would give Ruwe and Kremer three weeks to rewrite the resolution, but was overturned after SGA President John Jose broke the tie in favor of voting on it in Monday’s meeting. Postponing the resolution doesn’t mean that it has been rejected, but rather that the language of the resolution will be expanded upon.

Despite the postponement, Jose and other members of SGA expressed enthusiasm over the resolution.  

The proposed restrooms would be built to appeal to families as well as members of the LBGTQ community on campus.

“They’re not gender specific, they’re gender neutral,”  Senior Advisor for Inclusive Excellence, Dr. Kathleen Roberts, who was asked by Ruwe and Kremer to speak about the issue, said. “Gender neutral means inclusive of everyone, so particularly people with disabilities, those who are parents that might have children of the opposite gender… it’s not just for [transgender people].”

Roberts added that gender inclusive restrooms are not required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While the bathrooms would be available for anyone to use, one of the main reasons for the LGBTQ support is to prevent harassment of NKU’s transgender students.

“This work we’re doing is very symbolic in terms of creating a safe, welcoming community,” Roberts said.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that in 2011 26 percent of transgender people in an educational setting faced a denial of access to restrooms and 35 percent reported that they were harassed and bullied by other students, teachers and staff, said Roberts.

The study suggested that transgender students who identify as female-to-male experience a higher rate of harassment from just teachers and staff than their male-to-female counterparts, reporting 35 and 30 percent respectively.

Bonnie Meyer, director of LGBTQ services on campus who was also invited to speak about the issue by Ruwe and Kremer, said that every transgender student she’s talked to said they wanted more inclusive facilities on campus.

“I know many of the trans students on campus, many I don’t,” Meyer said. “Some trans students transition and don’t want to be outed, which is a reason we need gender inclusive facilities.”
NKU currently has gender inclusive restrooms in the Welcome Center, the Honors House, Griffin Hall and some residence halls. The University of Louisville has 20 of these restrooms, according to Meyer. The resolution will try to make the restrooms more accessible.

The resolution will be voted on again in next week’s SGA meeting. Stay connected with The Northerner for more updates.

Editor’s Note: Some language in this piece was changed for the online edition to better reflect the GLAAD Media Reference Guide.