Point/Counterpoint: Gender neutral restrooms

By Kaylyn Zielinski

Inclusive bathrooms demonstrate support of transgender community

The university should continue to create more gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus to show that it supports those who identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.

Contrary to popular belief, sex and gender are two different concepts. Someone could be born a certain sex but identify as a gender different from what they were assigned at birth.

Before addressing this issue, it is important to understand the difference between sex and gender. Sex is a person’s classification as male or female, whereas gender is someone’s deeply held sense of identity in terms of culture and society — not biological qualities. Gender may not fit neatly in a category.

Gender-inclusive bathrooms would allow all students to use these bathrooms regardless of the gender they identify with. Another benefit of these bathrooms is that people with a child of a different gender can use the use the same restroom.

NIU should be a place where students feel safe using a restroom regardless of their gender identity. There should be more gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus in the future. I applaud those who have pushed for more gender-inclusive bathrooms on our campus.

Bathroom renovations needed prior to gender-neutral sign modifications

Other additions and reconstruction should be done to NIU facilities before considering adding gender-neutral bathrooms.

I would recommend these additional bathrooms only in main facilities including the Holmes Student Center, Health Services and the residence halls.

At the moment, there are some buildings on campus that lack traditional men’s and women’s bathrooms in convenient locations. Reavis Hall only has bathrooms on the ground floor of the building. Students have to go out of their way in order to use the bathrooms — this should be addressed before adding gender neutral stalls. NIU should add more gender-specific bathrooms before adding gender-neutral ones to those new locations since the addition of gender-inclusive bathrooms will take less time than standard bathrooms.

While it is easiest to just switch the sign on a bathroom so as to make it gender-neutral, actual reconstruction could be expensive in the long run. I think these bathrooms are necessary but not realistic to build at the moment.