Salt Lake Community College students may have been a little surprised last week when they went to use the restrooms. Every male and female bathroom on South City Campus had a sign that read, “This bathroom is for everyone.”
Starting on April 3, members of the LGBT community from Utah and surrounding states joined in the 11th annual “A Family of Many: The Power of One” conference. Workshops were held and allowed people to share experiences with one another.
“We wanted to provide the LGBT community with a safe zone,” says Rocky Olmos, a member of The Power of One planning committee.
As part of the conference, gender neutral bathrooms were available to everyone as a way of supporting transgender males and females. Several people who are transgender have had negative experiences using restrooms. Having unisex bathrooms gives these people a safe and comfortable space free from discrimination.
“I’ve used gender neutral bathrooms,” says Nora Lindsey, a member of the Portland Queer Research Center. “Haven’t had a bad experience. It’s definitely needed.”
Some SLCC students were curious about entering restrooms marked for the opposite sex. Other students voiced outrage and were offended by the idea of a unisex bathroom. The conference and the changing of bathrooms, however, were not meant to create contention among students, but to create awareness while providing education and advocacy to those faced with challenges among the LGBT community, specifically those with gender confusion.
“People think if all bathrooms were gender neutral, then we are promoting perverts. We are promoting a safe space where no one questions identity,” says Debbie Corsino, Director of Multicultural Initiatives.
Corsino believes gender neutral bathrooms are a step in the right direction for those who are transgender. The Power of One is a place for change to start. She says when people express their feelings and support each other, it builds up the community.
“We speak with the voices of everyone,” says Olmos.
Gender neutral restrooms at SLCC were only in effect for the conference; however, people of the LGBT community are pushing for unisex restrooms on every campus.