Breaking Neutral Ground

There are gender-neutral bathrooms on FAU’s main campus, but nobody knows where they are.

CaptureCaptureFlorida Atlantic University has more than 28 gender-neutral and gender-inclusive, single-stall bathrooms, yet there is no vital information about them in FAU’s student handbooks or on FAU’s website.

Despite an online petition that made local headlines last semester, there is limited access and knowledge of where the gender-neutral bathrooms are located.

“They really should have them listed on a map or something, but I don’t think they ended up doing that,” junior English literature major and transitioning student Benjamin Brage expressed.

Brage was in charge of social media marketing when the petition launched  in the beginning of the fall 2014 semester.

The goal of the petition was for FAU administration to show awareness by listing the gender-neutral bathroom locations on campus. As of publication time, the petition has garnered 138 signatures.

“Sometimes it’s very intimidating going into one or the other bathroom for transgender students,” said Ashley Ashbaugh, president of Lambda United — FAU’s LGBTQIA student organization. “They don’t always feel like male or female bathrooms are the right one or the correct one.”

According to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, there are more than 150 colleges in the United States with gender-neutral bathrooms made simply by changing or remodeling single-stall bathrooms from male or female.

The University of Central Florida, for example, contains 17 gender-neutral restrooms and the directory map can be found within the LGBTQ tab on their main website.

CaptureIn comparison, FAU provides a paper listing accessible in the Multicultural Affairs office above the Breezeway on the Boca Raton campus. The paper listings feature seven buildings, such as the S.E. Wimberly Library and the Tom Oxley Athletic Center.

Missing from the list are gender-inclusive, single-stall bathrooms located inside the dorm lobbies including Indian River Towers and Parliament Hall.

“The dorm bathrooms are not designated, but helpful,” explained Lambda United treasurer Sarah Cothron to the UP when naming the dorm bathroom locations.

While the list is available in the resource center, it is not as convenient for students who are transitioning and in a hurried search for a nearby restroom.

CaptureBrage heard about the gender-neutral bathroom signs through word of mouth instead of from FAU administration.

“Basically, what happened was [FAU] put up signs that say ‘gender neutral’ instead of ‘family’ [restroom],” Brage said. “I’m not sure if they did anything else.”

Senior marketing major Jennifer Joseph knew of the gender-neutral bathrooms but never saw them before  finding one inside the administration building.

“I had heard of them awhile back but never saw any until that one,” Joseph stated. “I think it’s great and it gives people who don’t conform to typical gender conventions a safe place to do their business.”

Ashbaugh confirmed with the UP that the bathrooms are open for the entire student body and are not restricted to transgender students.

“Safety is most important for students on campus,” Ashbaugh said. “Not all of them feel safe going into bathrooms when they’re transgender. It’s a very hard and confusing time to be mentally one gender and biologically be different.”