Manitoba

Brandon University adds gender-neutral campus washrooms

Gender-neutral washrooms are becoming more common on campuses across the country, and now, Brandon University is no exception.

14 single-stall, accessible washrooms will be available through campus to improve accessibility

Brandon University has established 14 new gender neutral washrooms across campus with this signage. (Brandon University)

Gender neutral washrooms are becoming more common on campuses across the country, and now, Brandon University is no exception.  

As students return for the 2015-2016 school year, they will find the university has established 14 single-stall, accessible washrooms.

"Often trans and gender-queer folks or really anyone who doesn't conform to traditional gender scripts might face violence or harassment or discrimination, even glaring looks ... in sex-segregated bathrooms, which can really harm them," said sociology and gender studies professor, Corinne Mason who spear-headed the effort. "Gender-neutral washrooms are really important to those folks."

Mason said prior to this year, only one gender neutral bathroom was available on campus.

The new washrooms are part of the university's Positive Space Initiative, aiming to create a safe and supportive environment for all. 

Following a consulting process over the past several months, single-stalled facilities were identified across the campus and the signage was changed to gender-neutral.  

"They're not 'trans bathrooms.' This is not what people want ... further segregation, isolation, stigmatisation. They're bathrooms for all genders," said Mason.

'Basic human right'

Mason calls the washrooms a basic human right and challenges anyone who dismisses the move.

"Try and go a single day at work or at school without using the washroom because this is what trans and gender queer people face all the time when there are only sex-segregated washrooms to choose from where they don't feel safe," she said. "I know students and faculty who don't eat and don't drink all day on campus in order to not have to use the washroom."

Mason said other universities are battling to have washrooms like this put in place, but she was pleased Brandon University administrators were on board right away.

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