NIU looking to implement gender-neutral bathrooms


This gender-neutral bathroom is located in the basement of Neptune North. NIU is working on a draft for the inclusion of more gender-neutral restrooms on campus.

By Ashley Morse

NIU is currently working on a draft for the inclusion of more gender-neutral restrooms on campus and expects it to be ready by the end of the semester.

Gender-neutral does not refer to either sex but only to people in general. The benefits to these restrooms extend to people who are not women or men and/or people who are gender nonconforming, parents or caregivers whose children are a different gender from them and people with caregivers or personal attendants who are a different gender from them, according to the Unitarian Universalist Association website.

The Presidential Commission of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will be attempting to make several single-stall restrooms gender-neutral. There are places on the NIU campus that already exist like this and all that would be necessary is to change the sign on who can use it. Anyone regardless of gender will be allowed to use each restroom, said Kristen Myers, director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, said she has been pushing for gender-inclusive restrooms. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center has a gender-inclusive restroom, located on the first floor, that can be accessed by anyone regardless of their gender identity.

“I think it’s better to call them gender-inclusive because they’re not necessarily for [non-binary] people, but say that a dad needs to take his daughter to the restroom and he can now just do that without having to go home,” Holmes said.

Currently, Chief Diversity Officer Vernse Edgehill-Walden is working on a draft for the inclusion of gender-neutral restrooms. Edgehill-Walden said she is looking at other institutions for their costs as well. The draft is due to be ready at the end of the semester.

“The people who are making [the argument of gender-neutral restrooms] are being told that it is too expensive,” Myers said.

Holmes said a remodeling multi-stall restroom would take longer than changing the signs on single-stall restrooms.

“In the future it would be ideal to have [multi-stall restrooms], but most institutions start off with changing the signs when doing gender-inclusive restrooms,” Holmes said.