A recent decision on campus led to the implementation of gender-neutral restrooms in several locations around Fairfield. New and old locations of these restrooms include the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex, 47 Mahan Road, Donnarumma Hall, Meditz Hall and Xavier Hall. The measure represents a step taken in the right direction by Fairfield and if anything, highlights the need for even more similar steps to be taken.
Given recent nationwide discussions surrounding LGBTQ rights, specifically that of transgender bathroom rights, the implementation of these gender-neutral restrooms is a saving grace to some Fairfield students. Although going to the bathroom is a mundane, everyday activity that requires little to no thought for many students, for those who identify as transgender, gender fluid or by a non-binary identity, who they are has become such a matter of controversy that using the bathroom is a time of internal turmoil. As recently as Oct. 28, The Associated Press issued a press release announcing the decision of the Supreme Court to take on a case of “a Virginia school board that wants to prevent a transgender teenager from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school.” The school board’s actions are ridiculous given that Gavin Grimm, the aforementioned student, has transitioned and is still being denied access to the bathroom that matches his gender identity.
Measures like the one Fairfield is beginning to implement is paving the way forward for the inclusion of all kinds of people, no matter what gender they identify as. Gender-neutral restrooms help resolve the struggle that non-binary people encounter; it can affect them whether they are gender fluid, transexual or are not out as either, yet are uncomfortable using the opposing gender’s facilities.
In speaking with Meaghan Hamilton ‘17, who is the vice president of Alliance — a student-led organization that works to unify the LGBTQ community and its allies on Fairfield’s campus —, I learned that Carrie Robinson, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, was the one who initially spearheaded the issue around this time last year. There were several single-stall bathrooms around campus that were either label-less or were gendered in addition to the already existing gendered bathrooms. Robinson’s leadership enabled the implementation of an “all-gender” label that was put into place for these restrooms last spring, granting a wider variety of options for students.
Before the measure was put in place, only a handful of all-gender bathrooms were put into use around campus, meaning that we are certainly heading in the right direction. Before, these bathrooms weren’t in the most convenient spots on campus, so navigating your way to them was a whole other strategy in and of itself when trying to plan how to get to class on time. An entire part of your day shouldn’t have to involve plotting an opportune time to go out of your way just to use the bathroom. Therefore, the enactment of these facilities and how common they have become is beneficial because they give all students equal access to facilities that most of us take completely for granted.
At the end of the day, the significance of all-gender restrooms is making Fairfield students as comfortable in their identities as possible. Simple tasks shouldn’t feel like a hardship and shouldn’t make students feel like they have to hide part of their identity just to get through the day. Fairfield’s continued recognition of the LGBTQ community shows just how committed they are to taking action to preserve the rights and well-being of all their students.