Campus to see more gender neutral restrooms
March 11, 2008 4:30 PM
Nearly four years ago, SF State’s Queer Alliance petitioned for unisex bathrooms, and the student center governing board is planning to finally incorporate them into the Cesar Chavez Student Center this year.
Last August, the student board explored the possibilities of hosting the "gender-neutral" bathrooms after a former board member, Amrah Salomon-Johnson, picked up on the concern more than a year ago.
“I know that she had friends within the transgender community,” said Guy Dalpe, who has been managing director of the student governing board since 1990.
“The issue got a really good response. The board was very interested with what the possibilities were,” he said.
Several years ago the Queer Alliance petitioned for unisex bathrooms and managed to have one installed in almost every building on campus. Vi Le, a former Queer Alliance member who has served as vice president, treasurer and secretary of the student group, described the value of the restrooms for the student body.
“It’s important because sometimes we get strange looks,” Le said. “I look like a female, and I get strange looks in the guys' bathroom. You don’t want to feel like that, and you just want to hold it for the rest of the day.”
The unisex restrooms can be used by anyone. The bathrooms are single stalled, with a sign showing male and female symbols, and are equipped with a lock on the door to ensure more privacy.
Brennan Byrnes, a freshman, described using similar bathrooms for the first time at a Whole Foods in Walnut Creek. Byrnes said the experience opened his eyes.
“I thought it was cool,” said Byrnes. “It allows women with babies to use the bathroom with more frequency.”
Byrnes also said the unisex bathrooms have never been an issue for him and wondered why society has men’s and women’s bathrooms to begin with.
Students hoping to use the restrooms in the lower conference level of the student center will be mildly affected if renovations are launched when they are planned — sometime later this year.
“We’ll try to do it during an intersession like a June, July, August period,” Dalpe said. “We’ll probably take one of the restrooms out of service, leave the other one in service while we do one, and then flip them.”
According to Dalpe, renovations in the student center are off to a slow start.
“We were in the middle of other major projects we were trying to complete, like the west plaza,” he said.
Of the locations considered, the architectural firm looked at the terrace level, the lower conference level, and the plaza in the student center.
After much scrutiny, the architect decided the lower conference level was the best location for the bathrooms because it had the most available space and was the most cost effective, Dalpe said. The existing restrooms will receive a makeover, too.
“We’re renovating the restrooms anyway so we’re going to incorporate gender-neutral restrooms,” Dalpe said.
To view a map regarding the locations of the unisex bathrooms online, take a look at SF State’s interactive map at http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/.
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