The city of Portland, Oregon, is currently undertaking a whopping $195,000,000 renovation of the Portland Municipal Building and one of the steps being taken is to redesign all of the restrooms to be gender-neutral.
One result is the removal of all urinals.
Local NBC News affiliate KGW8 reports that Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart sent an email to employees explaining, “We will continue to have gender-specific (male and female) multi-stall restrooms that are readily available to any employee that prefers to use one. But, there will be no urinals in any restroom in the building.”
Rinehart added, “This will give us the flexibility we need for any future changes in signage.”
The plan – when all work is completed – will result in:
• The building’s 1st, 3rd, and 15th floors will have large multi-stall bathrooms that men and women will use together
• The other floors will have separate men’s and women’s bathrooms
• Every floor will have at least one gender-neutral bathroom
Pat Dooris, the KGW8 reporter who covered the story, makes a point to include “Gender and bathroom use has been a big deal when it comes to those who are transgender or gender fluid.”
Well, yeah, if you are transgender and want to use a bathroom without being accosted, I would say that’s a ‘big deal.’
UCLA’s Williams Institute says research shows 9 percent of transgender people have been attacked using a public facility.
Dooris also includes an interview with conservative talk show host Lars Larson who is outraged over the changes.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Larson tells Dooris. “First of all, I know that it already makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Secondly, its gonna take up a lot more space and third- anyone whose ever been to any public event – have you seen the line at the ladies’ room? Do you see any line at the men’s room?”
When Larson says “makes a lot of people uncomfortable,” what he’s referring to are trans people getting to use a public bathroom.
Larson also threw in a half-hearted pitch for water conservation noting that urinals use less water. Because conservatives are such environmental warriors?
While Larson seems fixated on the idea that men will suddenly have to cope with lines at the restrooms, studies have shown that gender-neutral bathrooms actually creates ‘potty parity’ as they equalize the average time men and women wait to use the facilities.
Plus, society has shifted and evolved on ‘bathroom policy’ for decades.
For instance, until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it was legal to segregate bathrooms by race.
It was 1990 when laws were finally passed to ensure bathrooms were accessible for people with disabilities or who use wheelchairs.
And let’s face it: if unisex bathrooms were fine for the folks in the late 1990s TV series Ally McBeal, why can’t we handle them today?
Doing a quick search of the interwebs, it seems the only folks who are upset about the new bathrooms at the Portland Building are far-right conservative websites looking for something to get upset about.
What do you think, readers? As new construction and building renovations occur, are gender-neutral bathrooms a step forward?