Throughout the last several years, Ithaca College has worked to install all-gender bathrooms across campus. The college not only constructed brand new bathrooms but also repurposed former single-gender ones, officially opening up these spaces to students outside the gender binary. As of September 2019, the college had a total of 121 full all-gender bathrooms and 20 half all-gender bathrooms. As campus renovations continue, the Office of Facilities will continue to install gender-inclusive restrooms.
The college’s effort to increase the number of gender-neutral restrooms is a necessary step toward campus-wide inclusivity. These spaces allow those outside the gender binary to use the bathroom without fear or the threat of violence. These bathrooms help establish trans inclusion, demonstrating the college’s acceptance of students with diverse gender identities. This support is especially vital as individuals in this demographic continue to be ostracized by current lawmakers and members of the presidential administration.
Since President Donald Trump took office in 2016, the LGBTQ community has consistently been the target of discriminatory practices. Until earlier this year, North Carolina had a policy that required transgender individuals to use the bathroom that matched the gender on their birth certificates. This is just one of the many discriminatory policies that isolate trans individuals. The harmful rhetoric surrounding LGBTQ issues has influenced widespread fear and unease among members of the community, specifically transgender and nonbinary people who often experience violence and exclusion on the basis of their gender identities.
College is a space where students are encouraged to grow, educate themselves on the world around them and discover the people they want to be. However, this can be difficult when nonbinary or transgender students are forced to worry about the potential repercussions of entering a space made for those in the gender binary.
The college is widely known for being one of the most friendly and inclusive LGBTQ-friendly educational institutions in the country — but this means nothing without direct action. The installation of gender-neutral bathrooms demonstrates the college’s commitment to students outside the gender binary and its desire to put its inclusive values into action. As an institution of higher education, it is our responsibility to provide a support system for all students. Creating safe spaces is a great way to start.