Beginning stages being completed for gender neutral bathroom

Terrel Emerson

The prospective idea of gender neutral bathrooms has gotten off to a pretty fast start, as now potential bathroom specifics are being discussed on campus.

Title IX Coordinator Dr. Valyncia Raphael hosted a Title IX and Gender Identity forum in order to raise more awareness for the proposed bathrooms.

She has been quite pleased with the early success of the information gathering process for the restrooms.

“It’s really just been about asking. We want this and students want this and I’ve had a lot of support in moving forward with the forums, making sure we have campus inclusive conversations,” she said.

Transgender student Jessica Summers was in attendance and was one of the first people to bring up the idea of the separate bathrooms.

“I was uncomfortable using the restroom because I was just starting and I was just learning, I didn’t know a whole lot,” Summers said. “Ever since then I realized awareness needed [to happen].”

Raphael opened the forum by thanking Summers for her constant contribution to the cause.

Summers has found herself in some pretty awkward predicaments and as a result is in search of a new solution.

“There are times I go to the bathroom and women just kind of look at me weird. Those are the times I just want to get in and out as fast as possible.

“There are times where I come to school in sweats, a t-shirt and Chuck [Taylor’s] and I look like a guy. I can’t go to the bathroom so I just go to a single stall. I shouldn’t have to feel that way,” Summers said.

She also admitted when she would go into men’s restroom she would be flirted with by other men, to which she called the actions “disgusting.”

During the forum, Raphael continued to go deeper into detail as to what gender identity is and how everyone can be open to understanding the sensitive topic.

She categorized it as a “vocabulary lesson” for the 12 individuals who attended the event.

Representatives from the Safe Club and Safe Zone were in attendance. Furthermore, representatives from the LGBTQ Center in Orange County and Long Beach were also there to attend the forum.

One of the first and most important steps in providing this new restroom on campus is the creating of the bathroom sign.

“I’m looking to get feedback as to what signs people are voting for and I will get that through the evaluations [that I gave out],” Raphael said.

Currently, the men’s restroom has the triangle symbol to signal males and the women’s restroom has a circle to signal females. However, the gender neutral restrooms must include both a triangle and circle.

According to Raphael, if completed it will mean a lot to people in the LGBTQ community.

“It provides an extra communication that safety is important for our LGBTQ students. Making gender inclusive restrooms isn’t a sign that we are isolating LGBTQ students, I want to make it clear that trans-people can use whatever restroom they feel is consistent with their gender identity,” Raphael said.

Summers agrees with Raphael completely.

“It would make a huge difference in the community. There are a lot of issues that need to be tended to but this is one of the ones that will make a difference for everybody,” Summers said. “You don’t realize how much of a privilege it is to go to the bathroom without thinking about it, until you actually have to think about it.”

And for anyone who opposes the idea of gender neutral restrooms, Summers has a message for them.

“You can go to the single stalls if you feel uncomfortable because I’m tired. Believe it or not, I’m just as certified to go to the bathroom as anyone else,” Summers concluded.

The next meetings are scheduled for Nov. 30 from 5 to 6 p.m. and Dec. 2 from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. in the Student Center.