Murray State University Designates Gender Neutral Restrooms
Murray State University has designated three single-person restrooms as gender neutral restrooms available to any person regardless of gender identity or expression.
The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender program coordinator at the school, Jody Cofer Randall, says these restrooms are important to a segment of the university population.
Randall told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/1yPsddg ) that it's "an indisputable fact" that transgender and gender non-conforming students attend Murray State.
Last September, the Student Government Association passed a resolution for LGBT equality that called for gender neutral bathrooms and other policy changes.
The university updated its policy regarding preferred first-name choices and promotion of diversity and tuition waivers for spouses and partners of university employees shortly after the resolution passed.
According to a voluntary survey of 592 students during the 2013-2014 academic year, 10.2 percent identified as LGBT, 2.2 percent as other and 3.6 percent preferred not to answer.
"We're at a place with Murray State where we have made a lot of progress. It's institutionally recognized now that we have an LGBT community," Randall said. "There is a need for these kinds of things, whether it is the restrooms or housing. If you want to be competitive as a university in 2014, you have to be talking about this."
When considering which restrooms would change designation, Randall asked the chief facilities officer for a listing of all restrooms and then narrowed it down to only single-person restrooms that could be accessible by students. Three were chosen and the signs were updated to signal gender neutral use.
Vice President of Student Affairs Don Robertson said that gender neutral bathrooms are not uncommon and that universities all over the country are providing this option for students.
"I think it's just another positive sign of inclusion and recognizing the needs that are there," Robertson said. "I think it also fits into our diversity plan. We want this to be a community and environment where everyone feels welcomed."