The University of Maryland Senate assigned the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to review a bill that would establish additional gender-inclusive restrooms on the campus.
In addition to calling for more gender-inclusive facilities on campus — including locker rooms, changing rooms and restrooms — the proposal pushes to make single-user restrooms gender-inclusive instead of labeling them for men or women and asks for better signage so these restrooms are easier to locate, among other revisions.
LGBT Equity Center Director Luke Jensen proposed the bill in March to push for an official plan for gender-inclusive facilities on campus.
Jensen said there have been talks for years, but no work has been done.
"There is a lot of good will, but good will by itself doesn't get the job done," Jensen said. "So let's get the job done."
The committee has a positive attitude about the legislation, said Eric Grims, the committee's chair.
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"The charge makes sense in efforts to make [the] campus that is inclusive for everyone, and I think the committee recognizes that," he said.
The legislation requests that this university "unambiguously state in policy that all individuals have the right to access gender-specific facilities consistent with their gender identity."
In upcoming meetings, the committee will discuss "practical applications" of the charge, such as moving it forward, implementing policy and working within building and construction codes, Grims said.
They will also be collecting data from peer institutions and speaking with stakeholders on campus, Grims said.
The international plumbing code will be updated in the next few months, which will "shed a little light on how to quantify the number of required single-user restrooms," said Bill Olen, Facilities Management capital projects director.
"Depending on what comes out in the senate legislation, we have to see how that [relates to] the update of the code," he said.
The committee has not set a date to vote, but it aims to move forward the policy by next spring, Grims said. If the committee approves the legislation, the Senate Executive Committee will vote on it next.
A student brought up the need for gender-inclusive bathrooms to the Joint President/Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force at its open forum held last week on Sept. 28.
"[There is] a need from trans students like myself to have all-gender bathrooms on campus," said Riley Lynn Nairn, executive member of this university's Pride Alliance.
Nairn, a senior Spanish major, specifically cited new buildings, including The Hotel at the University of Maryland, that do not have gender-inclusive bathrooms.
"I am disappointed by that," Nairn said. "I don't think it there necessarily needs to be major construction to [make gender-inclusive bathrooms]. It could be accomplished with something as simple as sign change and the understanding that people don't walk into bathrooms to molest people."