Senate approves gender-neutral bathrooms resolution

SGA Senators vote in favor of a resolution urging the university to implement gender-neutral bathrooms on campus at their Nov. 20 meeting. 

SGA Senators passed a resolution urging the university to implement gender-neutral bathrooms, also known as family bathrooms, Nov. 20.

The resolution, which passed with 24 affirmative votes and 3 abstentions, asks the university to “provide at least one gender neutral/family restroom… in each public building on campus or building cluster in some instances,” and states all new building plans should include gender-neutral bathrooms.

“I am very happy the resolution passed,” said Vice President of Senate Nick Lang. “I was very proud of the senators. Not only was the legislation written professionally, but we also had different feedback from both sides of the spectrum and everybody maintained professionalism throughout the meeting.”

The resolution does not impede on the needs of any students, as no one will be forced to use the gender-neutral bathrooms, said Title IX Advisory Board student member Jacob Ezell, a former senator.

Ezell said the changes will provide options for all students to feel safe on campus by leaving male and female bathrooms in place and adding a new option for transgender students.

Senator Jordan Graham said many students objected to the resolution, but it was still important to pass the legislation.

Graham said religious and moral objections to adding the bathroom options to campus could have clouded their judgment.

“If they can’t put those things aside, that’s sad because our minority is not just a number,” he said. “They are people just like me and you, and they deserve to be treated with respect and equality.”

Students needed more information about the gender-neutral bathrooms to form educated opinions about the topic, said Senate Pro-Tempore Sarah Emerson, who abstained from voting.

Emerson said the lack of understanding was a failure on Senate’s part.

“(Students) would have understood what the resolution actually was instead of all of the misconceptions that were on this campus and around the community,” she said. “I feel like if we are going to pass a resolution of this scale, as SGA representatives we need to vote when we feel like our community knows what we are voting on.”

It is now SGA’s job to continue the discussion of the resolution with the campus community, said senator Mollie Schaefer.

“I am excited about educating people about it, and I am excited about UNA becoming more welcoming and safe for all students,” Schaefer said.

Senator Nikki Messer said the resolution also caters to the needs of parents who do not want to take their children into a bathroom labeled for a specific gender.

For the resolution to take effect, the board of trustees must also vote in favor.