GRC identifies and expands the number of gender inclusive restrooms on campus
By Philip Denman, College Relations, June 12, 2023
Green River College is expanding the number of gender inclusive restrooms available to students, faculty, staff, and community members who visit campus to more than 30.
The need for safe, private facilities where campus members and visitors of any gender expression or gender identity would feel secure and safe was first surfaced by the GRC Queer & Allies Club and GRC Queer Caucus. Working with the College Relations Creative Service’s team and Facilities Services, they helped identify the restroom locations and design accompanying signage to make them easy to locate.
Most restrooms included in the project were existing single-occupancy restrooms that were previously labeled “Men” or “Women” and included a genderized icon to visually assist. For these restrooms, new signage was designed and installed simply labelling them as “Restrooms” with the icon of a toilet.
While the need originated within GRC’s LGBTQ+ community, the updated restroom labels and graphics were chosen to normalize that all members of the Green River College community are welcome to use the facilities. Gender-neutral restrooms may be helpful visitors that are intersex, individuals with disabilities and their caregivers, and families (parents bringing children of the opposite gender into a restroom). Additional signage was created and installed to identify which restrooms were accessible or included a changing table.
Sam Reavis, a GRC student and president of the Queer & Allies Club, believes that the expansion of gender inclusive restrooms will help provide students a sense of belonging on campus, and a better environment to focus on their education.
"Gender inclusive restrooms are important because they are welcome and open to anyone, which eliminates exclusion and promotes inclusion,” Reavis said. “Without gender inclusive restrooms maybe people on campus, including myself, feel uncomfortable or unable to use the restroom while on campus which is a big problem because everyone should be able to do something as simple as use the restroom and feel comfortable doing so. Having gender inclusive restrooms on campus gives myself and others the ability to exist and operate on campus comfortably."
Recent research supports Reavis’s beliefs, with one such study showing strong evidence that adolescents exposed to all-gender signage in a virtual school setting were more likely to understand gender as existing beyond a male-female binary, compared to peers exposed to gender-segregated signage.
All these efforts help bring to life GRC’s commitment to “Create a welcoming environment to promote and affirm equity and inclusion for all who enter the main campus, branch locations, and the College’s online domains” as outlined in the College’s 2021-2026 Equity-centered Strategic Plan. The new signage was funded by Campus Life, Student Affairs, and the Office of the Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
“I'm so excited to see our campus moving towards equity by adding more gender-neutral restrooms on campus!" Jamie Wyatt, GRC Getting Start Program Specialist and co-chair of the GRC Queer Caucus, said. “Gender neutral restrooms are incredibly important to our LGBTQ+ students. As a former president of Queer and Allies, we have had several students who have had to leave Cedar Hall at the back of campus and trek all way to the Student Union to use a gender-neutral bathroom.”
The locations of the current restrooms are follows, with:
- Student Union 2nd floor
- West Building
- P.A. building
- P.E. building
- International Village – D
- Student Union, 1st floor
- Student Affairs, 2nd floor (behind stage)
- WETRC building
- West Building
- Auburn Center - 2nd floor (signage to be installed during summer quarter)
- Kent Campus - 1st floor, 3rd floor (signage to be installed during summer quarter)
- Holman Library - I.T/Media Services area (signage to be installed during summer quarter)
The team plans to expand the project further during the 2023-2024 Academic Years to include info session and programming during opening week. Further work of the team will include evaluating gendered restrooms across campus and recommending the shift of some multi-stall restrooms to be converted to restrooms.
Along with the new signage, GRC's online campus map has been updated to indicate the location of the gender-neutral restrooms. Plans to update the physical iSpot wayfinding maps located across the main Auburn campus are underway.