Personally, the gender-neutral bathroom topic does not affect me. Within the dorms and buildings around campus, I feel incredibly comfortable. But for transgender and gender-nonconforming students, gender-specific locations such as the bathroom may come with a sense of discomfort.
While there are many students who would not understand the benefits of the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms, they could be incredibly comforting for those who are impacted by the decision to include them or not. It is not for someone else to say what other people should or should not be comfortable with, given that we all come from different backgrounds and homes. In order to make transgender students more comfortable, there should be at least one genderless or “family” bathroom placed in each building on campus.
Incoming freshmen are confronted with a completely different lifestyle when leaving their homes to live in the dorms. Adjusting to a new food schedule, the additional stress of college classes and navigating around campus are changes all students have to adapt to. Sharing a bathroom space is an adjustment that can be accompanied by discomfort and potential confusion for people struggling with their own personal sexual identity.
It was easy to adapt to the shared bathrooms on campus for most students, but the bathroom that I was using and people that would be sharing that space with me was clear. Adapting to a college schedule and environment presents students with enough challenges, and any steps to aid students to feel more comfortable should be implemented. Transgender students should have the option of a genderless bathroom in order to feel less risk of harassment and reduce anxiety they may feel while entering a gender-specific bathroom.
Outside of the Lawrence bubble, there will be many locations that do not include genderless bathrooms. Providing them for students could cause a sense of security on campus that will not be available elsewhere when graduating and leaving school.
While it could be argued that providing alternative bathroom options on campus could shelter or fail to adequately prepare students for the real world, while living at school Lawrence is their home. Students don’t have the option to feel safe showering at home at the start of their day, and having the additional family bathroom option would provide them with that security while living at school.
Lawrence is an incredibly safe campus with a friendly community. The concern that people would be pursued by the opposite gender could arise with the addition of genderless bathrooms, but given the nature of Lawrence’s campus, I think that they could function well without problems. Currently, there are genderless bathrooms in some dorms around campus, such as in Trever, a single-stall bathroom in the Conservatory and two multiple-stall bathrooms in Colman.
Living in Colman, the gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor has functioned well and exists without any major problems. Anyone who does not feel comfortable entering a genderless bathroom would also have the option of using a gender-specific bathroom since they will still be available and around for students.
It would be ridiculous for every floor in every dorm to have a genderless bathroom. Since there are already gender-neutral bathrooms in some residence halls, I do not think it would be necessary to add them in buildings where they are already located. The addition of bathrooms on every floor could cause an unnecessary amount of construction or a problem where not enough gender-specific bathrooms exist, creating the unease for other students. Since Lawrence is a residential campus that requires students to live on campus all four years, students should be able to feel comfortable in the environment in which they are living. The addition of these bathrooms would not affect everyone; but to a few individuals, they could limit unnecessary anxiety in a new place, and it is important that they are able to have that additional sense of security.