SGA urges UNA to provide gender-neutral restrooms

Many universities across the nation are pushing to adopt gender-neutral bathrooms, and UNA may be the next to fall in line.

SGA senators expressed intentions to bring a resolution to the floor urging university officials to change signs on campus bathrooms.

“Basically, what needs to happen is that each building needs one restroom that is signed ‘gender-neutral’ or ‘family bathroom,’” said Nikki Messer, chairwoman of the Student Welfare Committee.

Messer said SGA is not pushing for the university to build new restrooms, but it wants Facilities Administration and Planning to change the signs on current restrooms from ‘men’ or ‘women’ to ‘gender-neutral’ or ‘family bathroom.’

During open Senate meetings, Messer said the university is in violation of Title IX without gender-neutral restrooms.

“Everyone is protected under Title IX if they are discriminated upon on the basis of their sex or gender,” said Brett Sokolow, UNA’s Title IX compliance attorney. “Some sexual orientation discrimination is gendered and when it is, it comes within the protections of the statute. Transgender individuals are protected, but the law does not explicitly require gender-neutral restrooms.”

Senior Bruno Zuleta said he fears safety problems could result from integrating the sexes in restrooms.

“I’m not against it, but I’m not sure it is the right thing to do,” Zuleta said. “You hear in the media of females being assaulted in bathrooms by males. It can be dangerous.”

He said while campus should have at least one gender-neutral bathroom, one in each building is not necessary.

“Mothers with young sons may need a place to take them,” said sophomore Hannah Campbell. “I have no issue with it at all.”

Sokolow said providing gender-neutral bathrooms is a good idea wherever possible.

Senate Vice President Nick Lang met with Assistant Vice President for Facilities Administration and Planning Michael Gautney to discuss the implementation of the gender-neutral bathrooms Nov. 4.