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Gender Neutral Bathrooms

In Unitarian Universalism, all are welcome.  We believe every person is born with dignity and humanity, and we practice that in one way by creating welcoming and inclusive spaces.  Having building space with bathroom facilities that are ADA-accessible and open to people of any gender, or “gender neutral,” is an important way congregations can show their full welcome and inclusion.

Who Benefits from Gender Neutral Bathrooms?

  • People who are uncomfortable in men’s or women’s rooms for many reasons; for example, people who are not women or men and/or people who are gender nonconforming (see Identity 101 for more)
  • Parents/caregivers whose children are a different gender from them
  • People with caregivers or personal attendants who are a different gender from them

Thinking of Creating a Gender Neutral Bathroom?

Thinking of turning one or more bathrooms gender neutral? Be sure to create well-facilitated opportunities for staff, members, friends, and children to learn about why gender neutral bathrooms are important to your congregation and dialogue about any concerns they may have.

Make use of our Transgender Identity, Welcome, and Resources page and the resources listed above. Consider a screening of the video Toilet Training. If there are openly transgender members in your congregation, be sure to privately consult with them and/or invite them into the process of creating gender neutral bathrooms if they are interested.

Easy Options for Gender Neutral Bathrooms

  • Have one or more single-occupancy or family bathrooms? Designate and label them “gender neutral” or “all gender.”
  • Have three or four multi-stall bathrooms? Turn one or two of them into gender neutral bathrooms. You can either keep them multi-stall or convert them to single-occupancy bathrooms by installing an “occupied/unoccupied” lock on the external door.
  • Only have two bathrooms and not in a position to build a third? Consider steps you can take to make your existing bathrooms more inclusive. Can you label them so that people feel empowered to use the bathroom that is most comfortable for them and can trust they won’t be harassed inside?
  • Rent or share building space and don’t have control over your bathroom facilities? Consider (a) discussing your desire for gender neutral bathrooms with your landlord or fellow tenants and/or (b) making it a role for the greeters/ushers to create gender neutral bathrooms each week by posting and then removing paper signs.
  • Be sure to have signs by your bathrooms and elsewhere that direct people to both your gender neutral bathroom(s) and your gender-specific bathrooms.
  • Make it clear that all people may use the bathroom that is right for them. Some transgender people desire gender neutral bathroom space; some identify as women and men and should not be pressured or forced out of women’s or men’s rooms.
  • Add your congregation to safe2pee, a directory of gender neutral bathrooms

Examples of Bathroom Signs that Affirm Gender Diversity

Resources on Safe Bathrooms

  • Gender neutral bathroom 101 and FAQ from Portland Community College
  • Transgender People Need Safe Restrooms,” a Huffington Post article by Mason Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Project
  • Toilet Training, a 30-minute documentary video on the need for safe bathrooms for all, from Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
  • Conversation on gender neutral bathrooms on The VUU, a video web series from the Church of the Larger Fellowship

For more information contact lgbtq@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

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Gender Neutral Bathroom Sign from General Assembly 2013
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The UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester, NY, has three single-occupancy bathrooms that were all turned gender neutral.
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The UU Congregation of Atlanta, GA, has two multi-stall gender-specific bathrooms and one previously private single-occupancy bathroom, which was turned public and gender neutral.
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