The number of gender inclusive bathrooms has increased since 2017 when Penn administration found that installing gender inclusive bathrooms across campus would be feasible. Students and staff, however, say there is still work to do.
The Office of the University Architect is currently working to add gender inclusive bathrooms in David Rittenhouse Laboratories and Levine Hall, according to an emailed statement from University Architect Mark Kocent. Houston Hall will undergo similar renovations in summer 2020. Kocent added that the McNeil Building and the Lauder Institute were also renovated to include all-gender bathrooms in summer 2019.
LGBT Center Director Erin Cross and Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services determined in 2017 that more than 100 single-use restrooms could be converted to serve all genders. Cross confirmed that Penn currently has 89 gender inclusive bathrooms on campus. All-gender inclusive bathrooms are currently listed on the LGBT Center website, which Cross said is constantly updated.
Kocent added that other locations on campus are under evaluation to add gender inclusive bathrooms.
Lambda Alliance chair and College junior Bryce Nguyen said the McNeil renovation is a great model for what gender inclusive bathrooms should look like across campus. Nguyen added that the bathrooms are located on the main floor and contain floor-to-ceiling stall doors that promote accessibility and privacy.
College junior and Queer Student Alliance chair Jackson Maxwell said that, while there are gender neutral bathrooms around campus, Penn could be doing better to create more gender inclusive spaces.
“Especially for trans people who don’t pass or for non-binary people, you don’t want to force them into an uncomfortable situation," Maxwell said. "You don’t want to force them into this dichotomy where they have to choose male or female."
Cross said funding has been the biggest roadblock in adding more gender inclusive bathrooms on campus.
“I’m pretty hopeful as far as new buildings are concerned, because the cost can be built in," Cross said. "When you’re building from scratch, the cost difference isn’t as much as far as the renovations are concerned."
Cross added renovating existing bathrooms to become gender inclusive requires more work than simply changing the label on the door, citing that all-gender bathrooms should include floor-to-ceiling stall doors to protect the privacy of students, which most single-use bathrooms do not have.
Cross said that Tangen Hall, a Wharton building which will house the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship program expected to be completed in fall 2020, will contain single-use bathrooms. Cross, however, described the decision to not include multi-stall gender inclusive bathrooms in the student entrepreneurial hub as disappointing.
In June 2017, 37 of the approximately 200 nonresidential buildings maintained by FRES included at least one gender inclusive bathroom. As of August 2018, Cross and David Hollenberg, who served as the University Architect for nearly 12 years until his partial retirement in June, said the number has increased to 55. Upon request, Kocent said he could not provide updated numbers.
College sophomore Claire Medina, who is non-binary, criticized the University for not having enough gender inclusive bathrooms. As a first year living in the quad, Medina said the nearest gender inclusive bathroom was several floors away, farther than they should have to walk to use the bathroom.
“The fact that we have gendered bathrooms in the first place is absurd," Medina said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tangen Hall will not contain gender inclusive bathrooms, when in fact, the building will include single-use bathrooms. The DP regrets the error.
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