University of Nevada Lacks Accessibility with Gender Neutral Restrooms
The University of Nevada has been one of the leading institutions in the nation on pushing social issues and promoting equality and inclusion. At the forefront of this issue has been the championing of gender neutral bathrooms located throughout the University to provide more accessibility to students and faculty that identify outside of traditional binaries.
However, with the retrofitting of family restrooms into gender neutral restrooms, the campus has placed accessibility and safety of these students and faculty as an afterthought to the discussion.
“In the discussions I’ve been open to on the LGBTQ faculty group, there have some concern expressed by several people that the existing gender neutral bathrooms are in places that are not particularly trafficked and that that poses a risk of people who feel targeted on campus feeling they will be more targeted in those areas,” said University professor Dr. Katherine Hepworth.
Hepworth voices the concern of many students and faculty on campus that the locations of current restrooms could potentially pose a threat to already at-risk students.
According to The Williams Institute in 2016, an estimated 0.61% of adults in Nevada identify as transgender. With the growing population of enrolled students at the University, the number of trans students and other students or faculty that identify outside of traditional gender identities is growing rapidly and the University could be doing a better job at giving those students an equal opportunity at ease-of-access to restrooms and other issues.
Dylan Jones, a self-identified queer student and LGBTQ+ activist said, “gender neutral restrooms are the most controversial issue in the media right now but that’s not the main issue for all queer students. The issue of safety for LGBTQ+ students goes beyond bathrooms but until issues like this are taken seriously it doesn’t give much faith to everyone that the University can handle safety and inclusion of queer students as a whole.”
Despite this misstep, many people are optimistic about the future of the restroom issue and inclusivity at the University altogether.
Blane Harding, Director of the Center at the University of Nevada said, “There have been a wide range of voices in this conversation including faculty, staff, students, and campus police. So far the potential risks have been identified but once they are in place I am certain other topics/risks will surface. You can’t think of everything.”
Dr. Hepworth even recognized that the University has shown “good faith” in their development of new buildings.
The University is adding new gender neutral restrooms to newly constructed buildings all over campus, notably in the newly developed Peavine Residence Hall and the E.L. Weigand Fitness Center, showing a commitment toward further inclusion across the campus.
UNR capacity study workgroup: Dane Apalategui, Serge Herzog, Raymond Needham, Arthur Chenin, Jed Hammer, Cody Grigg, Leslie Nady, Michael Nicks, Ed Huffman, Bruce Shively
The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law
Institutional Analysis at the University of Nevada Reno