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Pennsylvania

Philadelphia council member proposes gender-neutral restrooms

Sunday, April 21, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia city council member wants to require new or renovated city-owned buildings to have gender-neutral restrooms in addition to men’s and women’s restrooms.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the measure, introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney at the behest of the LGBT community, would also require transgender health benefits for city employees.

“It can be an awkward and embarrassing situation” for anyone who may “feel more like a woman, but can’t use the women’s room,” Kenney said. “These functions should be fair for everybody.”

Speakers at a recent committee hearing on the bill said transgendered youth faced discrimination in bathroom access.

“We’re talking about people who want to be respected, who want their personal identification to be respected and just want to blend in,” said state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Legislature, who had a role in shaping the measure.

Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, said the bill wouldn’t cost the city extra money because it already requires single-use wheelchair-accessible bathrooms in all of its buildings. The number of gender-neutral bathrooms required under the bill would depend on the size and use of a building.

The bill would also make online city websites and forms gender-neutral and establish transgender health benefits for city employees to cover psychotherapy, hormone treatments, laser hair removal and gender confirmation surgery.

“Life is hard for everybody and certain obstacles the government puts in the way intentionally or unintentionally make life harder for some more than others,” Kenney said, “and all we’re trying to do is streamline that down.”

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31 more reader comments:

  1. Many restrooms here in Europe are mixed gender anyway. What’s the big deal?

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:15pm
  2. This is a great idea!

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:15pm
  3. Many of the best clubs have uni-sex potties.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:16pm
  4. Here’s what I don’t get, aren’t all womens rooms individual cordoned off stalls with doors on them. So what does it matter then?

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:16pm
  5. because most of my fellow Americans are prude reclusive people.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:16pm
  6. Way to go Philly!!

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:16pm
  7. Not that I’m against uni-sex potties, but considering that men assault women in one-sex potties, what is to stop them from assaulting them in uni-sex potties? It would seem like encouragement. Plus, having been a janitor, the men’s rooms I cleaned smelled much worse than the women’s, so there’s that. I *am* all in favor of bathrooms that are single-toilet that people go in, lock the door and use, walk out and someone else goes in.

    I think that at some point, we’d get over it here if we had uni-sex bathrooms.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:19pm
  8. I don’t know…for one thing I’m concerned about the higher changes of women being molested in a unisex bathroom. I understand the progressive concept, but that would be a SERIOUS concern for me.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:19pm
  9. Fuck Yeah Pennsylvania.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:20pm
  10. Janice, I’d be willing to bet the men would be a LOT cleaner if the women were in the bathroom with them.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:24pm
  11. The unisex bathrooms are, I think, for transgendered and other people who would feel safest and most comfortable in them. If you’re scared of them, don’t use them yourself – problem solved. I’m assuming they might be good for use by the crowd who wants a “family restroom” as well.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:25pm
  12. Then women can choose not to use a unisex bathroom, Romeo.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:25pm
  13. People don’t go into bathrooms to assault people. That is a LIE used by the religious right against why unisex bathrooms should be used. Besides lots of public and private facilities now use unisex and also a lot of your community and major colleges and school institutions have unisex bathrooms. Assaults are HIGHLY uncommon in unisex bathrooms, if someone is going to assault someone else how would a door on a womans or mans bathroom stop them from committing the crime?? Seriously. Putting in unisex bathrooms in govt buildings is a great idea!

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:26pm
  14. All the ones I have been in are. It should not matter. I have also been in many places that have uni sex restrooms.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:40pm
  15. I use to clean restrooms in a department store, I found the women’s room was just as nasty as the men’s room.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:45pm
  16. The unisex rooms I am familar with only allow 1 person at a time.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:46pm
  17. Toilet Equality! Finally!

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:47pm
  18. The unisex restrooms I am familiar with allow only 1 person at a time. I have never seen a multi stall unisex restroom.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 1:49pm
  19. This is the proper solution… what is the big fuss about?

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:14pm
  20. See, Rain, I was totally for uni-sex bathrooms until a guy was talking about his “silly grandmother” who didn’t want to be in the bathroom at the same time as a man. WTH? So, I think that one-stall bathrooms would work wonderfully as unisex, but I’m not too thrilled about multi-stall ones, as he has seen. And my main reason for being for them is so transgender people don’t have to worry about being attacked for being in the “wrong” bathroom. They’re already attacked for so many things as it is.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:20pm
  21. JD Dickerson – it is not a lie that there are people who go into bathrooms to assault people. There’s the guy in Vegas who went into a women’s bathroom to attack a little girl, and his friend knew about it and did nothing. I agree with you that the religious right are fearmongers. They sure are. But it’s not a lie to say that this has happened.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:22pm
  22. Ok I’m sorry I did not clarify my comments. I meant it is highly unusual that people use unisex bathrooms to do assaults. It is few and far between, crime happens regardless but the reason that the religious right wing uses is almost always a fear of assaults. I don’t believe that reason should be used, there is no reason that people should not be allowed to use unisex bathrooms.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:28pm
  23. This sounds like another “separate but equal” ploy. As long as you respect my privacy in the restroom, I really don’t care what may or may not be between your legs.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:33pm
  24. At least everyone can pee in peace in Philly.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:42pm
  25. “Family bathrooms” also benefit disabled folks who need assistance from spouses or others !

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 3:02pm
  26. Perhaps the point is to make bathrooms safer for everyone- gender segregation actually decreases safety (for trans* folks, women, etc). The only reason bathrooms are gender segregated at all are because of religious zealotry from a World’s Fair about 100 years ago… time to let that tradition die. Makes no more sense to have gender segregated bathrooms than race segregated bathrooms.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:00pm
  27. Private unisex bathrooms I can totally understand. I’ve been to places where they segregate private bathrooms and that never made sense to me.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:11pm
  28. I’m assuming that they really mean non-private unisex bathrooms with multiple stalls and urinals. The religious right’s sensationalization of bathroom abuse is definitely abhorrent, but that does not change the fact that instances of sexual abuse do occur in bathrooms and the likelihood of such could increase in a non-private unisex bathroom.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:14pm
  29. Take out the sex crime factor. There are plenty of women AND MEN who would seriously not feel comfortable in a restroom with the opposite sex.

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:15pm
  30. I’m not saying no to unisex restrooms, but maybe they can provide that as an OPTION, while keeping the separate men’s and women’s restrooms for those who would prefer a same-sex restroom. If anything, it will mean more stalls available to prevent long lines at the women’s restroom at busy events (which always occurs and in such cases, the men’s room ends up becoming unisex by popular demand and time restraints.)

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:19pm
  31. Also consider some people may come from cultures that may seriously forbid them from being in such an intimate environment with the opposite sex..

    Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:54pm