Delta College will soon be joining the growing ranks of colleges that are designating gender-neutral restrooms on campus.
A location for the restrooms has not been officially determined as of yet, though it appears that restrooms located in the Forum building are the most likely candidates to undergo transformation.
“It takes time for this,” said Isaiah Merriweather, former vice-president of Delta’s Pride Club. “But we really are moving forward with this.”
According to Merriweather, the campaign for the unisex restrooms began years ago, but a combination of budgetary concerns and logistics have slowed the process. Now, however, there appears to be a “timeline for a timeline” for the project’s commencement.
Merriweather said there have been promising discussions with Delta College Vice-President of Operations, Gerardo Calderon, though Calderon was not available for comment at the time this article went to press.
Delta student Kathryn Simon believes that the change is overdue. “You see other schools around the country doing stuff like this, so it makes you wonder what’s taken so long for something like this to happen here,” she said. “You figure this is a pretty tolerant place, so why not?”
California is the first state to have a law stipulating that all single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings and other public venues be open to all genders. A number of colleges and universities in the state, including the entire University of California system, had a similar policy in place before Assembly Bill 1732, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year, made it mandatory.
One goal of AB 1732 was to provide safety for those in the LGBT community who may face harassment when using gender-specific restrooms.
Merriweather acknowledged that even with gender-neutral restrooms those types of concerns will remain. As a result, Merriweather has proposed safety measures such as working locks, security cameras and increased patrolling by campus police.
In addition to safety measures, location should be a paramount focus, according to Merriweather. In Merriweather’s opinion, the Forum building would be superior to the other proposed location for the new facilities, the fourth floor of the Shima building.
“One should not have to go to the fourth floor just to go to the bathroom,” said Merriweather.
One hurdle that seems to have been recently overcome is the language used to describe the new facilities. Typical terms for such restrooms include unisex, gender-neutral and gender-inclusive. However, tentative plans to refer to Delta’s new washrooms as “family restrooms” had raised some eyebrows.
“The term ‘family restroom’ is a welcoming name but not to the LGBT community,” said Merriweather.
Delta College Dean of Student Services, Dr. Lisa Cooper, assured Delta’s Pride Club on October 11th that the terminology used for the new facilities’ signage would reflect the sensitivity that the administration has for the campus’ LGBT community.
While most discussions concerning single-occupancy bathrooms revolve around the LGBT community, it’s not the only demographic eager to use the new restrooms when they open.
While conducting interviews for this article, some female members of Delta’s student body described similar accounts of unwelcome interactions with male students in Shima’s second floor woman’s restroom.
“I was at the sink and this guy just came walking in like he (expletive) owned the place,” said student Lynn Rudd. “I said, ‘Hey, this is the ladies room! You know that, right?’, and he didn’t even respond. Just started [urinating].”
Student Josephina Reichert, who was in the restroom with Rudd at the time, added, “The same thing happened to me about a week later, except the guy turned and walked out when he saw me. I think he was embarrassed. He looked, like, ashamed.”
“The sooner they get bathrooms that lock, the better,” said Rudd.