If Ally McBeal taught us anything, it's that unisex public restrooms would not lead to total social degradation, but rather to zany plot twists and dance numbers. Yet for all of our societal progress since that '90s legal dramedy, designating a multi-stall bathroom gender-neutral still seems a radical idea to many.
Now some Washington State University Vancouver students have made raising gender awareness and ending bathroom injustice their No. 1 and No. 2 missions. A student group promoting gender diversity has named April 2-6 "Gender-Neutral Bathroom Week." Seven bathrooms across the campus will be open to any gender, with volunteer "toilet trainers" stationed out front. Student organizers Janae Teal and Meredith Williams agreed to answer the questions we had the hardest time holding.
WW: How did this idea come to a head?
Students: We're not sure how the bathroom became this sacred space where women feel they need to police gender to feel safe, or men need to beat up someone who isn't masculine enough. No one looks like the silly icon on the sign, but I don't question your presence in there—why question mine? Aren't we just here to do our business? Who gives a shit?
Are you hoping to flush out discrimination with the campaign?
We are hoping to wipe away the fears people feel when confronted with someone [who] doesn't meet with their image of what a man or woman should look like. We hope people will be willing to wash their hands of the need to harass, question or even physically attack people who are just trying to go to the bathroom.
What are the duties of the âtoilet trainersâ?
While they will not hold your backpack while you go or teach you how to aim, they will be stationed outside of each gender-neutral bathroom with a snazzy "Toilet Trainer" T-shirt and a walkie-talkie. They will answer questions, direct confused people with full bladders, and overall make sure everyone gets to pee in peace.
GO: For more information about Gender-Neutral Bathroom Week, check out wsuvgenderdiversity.wordpress.com.
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