Simple changes make JHU campus bathrooms more gender-, wheelchair-, and family-friendly
For some transgender people, using a women's or men's bathroom with multiple stalls can be problematic: they can be harassed (or worse), simply for using a bathroom that reflects their gender identity.
With those gender-based concerns in mind, plus feedback about bathrooms on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus gathered in a forum and via a campus-wide survey, the LGBTQA graduate student group recently helped install gender-neutral signs for two single-occupancy restrooms in Shaffer Hall.
The group also paid special attention to wheelchair accessibility and the needs of people with young children, two issues raised during a recent "Potty Talk" forum supported by a Diversity Innovation Grant.
And they worked closely with JHU Facilities and Real Estate Management to resolve problems with lighting and functionality discovered in other restrooms.
"There's a lot more we can do for safe and accessible bathrooms for all community members," says Mo Speller, a member of the LGBTQA Grad Group. "But the major qualitative difference I see resulting from this small step is that when I came to Hopkins, another trans student told me the best strategy was to live near campus and go home to use the bathroom. Now we've established a limited number of locations for people fearing harassment on the basis of their gender presentation to use, right here on campus—and that's very meaningful."
A full list of gender- and wheelchair-friendly restrooms can be found online at http://web.jhu.edu/LGBTQ.