Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gender Neutral Bathrooms: Diesel Cafe Leads the Way

On May 22nd, 2014, the Somerville Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to amend Somerville’s human rights ordinance to include gender identity as a protected class. This got a lot of people thinking about what we can do to make Somerville safer and more welcoming to transgender people. One easy thing to do is to change single-stall bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms. Transgender people often feel unsafe using multi-stall restrooms, where they may be misgendered and encounter verbal or physical abuse. Having a single stall, gender neutral bathroom means that they can use the bathroom safely, and no one will question their right to use that bathroom.

I interviewed Jess Brasil, the Operations Manager at Diesel Café, Bloc 11 Café, and Forge Baking Company about Diesel Café’s gender neutral bathrooms.

LGBT Liaison: How long have the bathrooms at Diesel been gender neutral?
Jess Brasil: Since we opened May 29, 1999.
LL: Why does Diesel have gender neutral bathrooms?
JB: In order to provide an inclusive community, and to ensure that both our customers and staff feel comfortable with the facilities provided.
LL: What have customers and staff said about the fact that your bathrooms are gender neutral?
JB: I think the fact that the bathrooms are gender neutral as well as single stall is very appreciated by our customers, staff and the public for several reasons. Our bathrooms are also ADA compliant. Customers always comment on how much they appreciate that there are facilities that they feel free to use at any time.
LL: What do you consider some of the benefits of having gender neutral bathrooms?
JB: Accessibility, increased level of comfort for our customers and staff, assisting in continuing to foster the most inclusive community we can. It is also a benefit to our local community in Davis Square and Somerville.
LL: Are there any drawbacks to having gender neutral bathrooms?
JB: Not that we have experienced, we have never gotten negative feedback regarding our gender neutral bathrooms.
LL: What does the sign on your bathroom say?
JB: Just a unisex black and white sign, with ADA compliant figures listed on each door. We also have an accessible sign next to the doorway too.

LL: Would you recommend gender neutral bathrooms to other restaurants and businesses?
JB: Yes, of course. It would be a great way for all businesses to continue to help build community and encourage inclusion.
LL: What’s the best bathroom sign you’ve ever seen?
JB: Respect Thy Throne

Does your business have a single stall bathroom? Consider changing it to a gender neutral bathroom. Here are some free printable signs that can use to turn your bathroom into a gender neutral bathroom:

You can also visit www.refugerestrooms.org to access and add to a map of public gender neutral and accessible bathrooms.

Post pictures of your gender neutral bathrooms in the comments!

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