Unisex restrooms in dorms meant to cater to LGBT
August 30, 2010
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Cal State Long Beach may not offer unisex housing, but it provides public restrooms to be used by both sexes in the lobby halls at some housing facilities.
The restrooms in the on-campus residential halls and CSULB’s off-campus residential site are separated according to gender. However, unisex restrooms are offered to the public in the lobby of Parkside Commons, Residence Commons, Los Cerritos Hall and Los Alamitos Hall.
Introduced two years ago by Housing and Residential Life, these facilities have been designed primarily as “a friendly service to meet the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Elson Browne, associate director of residential life.
“It is our desire to be sensitive to all students regarding how they identify themselves with gender, and to respect people’s sensitivity issues by providing them with a comfortable place to use rather than always having to choose,” said Carol Roberts-Corb, director of Housing and Residential Life.
According to Browne, there has been “no student reaction toward the change.”
This gender-neutral restroom service begs the question why CSULB does not offer unisex housing.
“It is certainly something other schools are doing — offering mixed restrooms — as well as gender-neutral housing. It really has to do with the set up of our resident halls, as there is only one bathroom in each suite, and while some are comfortable with mixed genders, others may prefer to have the choice of the traditional gender-specific facilities,” Roberts-Corb said.
When asked why Housing and Residential Life didn’t have the same concerns about students feeling uncomfortable with the unisex restorms, Roberts-Cord sad that: “Particularly these gender-neutral bathrooms are for non-residents. The lobby bathrooms are mainly for visitors, guests and parents.”
In response to the possibility of unisex housing, Roberts-Corb said, “It’s certainly something we can explore in the future, particularly with the Residential Learning College, which is only in its second year of running.”
There were two assaults reported in an on-campus restroom the past year, neither involved a unisex restroom.
According to Roberts-Corb, the unisex restrooms are all located in very visible and safe locations. In Parkside Commons and Residence Commons, the unisex restrooms are in clear view of the desk attendants and only accessible when attendants are present. Accessibility to the Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos restrooms are only ever available for residents with keys. Locks are also provided inside the unisex bathroom doors for those who want more privacy.
“Because the bathrooms have their own personal locks, no one else can enter while you’re there. You can treat it as your own bathroom, in terms of personal comfort,” Roberts-Corb said.