Faculty and students hoping for more all-gender washrooms on campus

A Building lacks an abundance of inclusive washrooms, meanwhile T Building has six

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By CAROLINE BASSO

More than a year after a request by a Langara instructor and students for more all-gender washrooms in the A Building, the college has not made any changes to the building’s washrooms.

Caroline Ross, a photography instructor, said the A Building needs universal restrooms to be inclusive.

She said non-binary models coming to campus to participate in her class demonstrations did not have a safe space in the A Building to use washrooms. She also said she could not bring in non-binary guest speakers because of the same lack of washrooms.

“If you’re not comfortable in a binary restroom, then you have to go use one in the T Building,” Ross said.

Washroom disparity between buildings

Ross wants more all-gender washrooms in the A Building which currently only has two such washrooms in out of the way locations. By comparison the T Building has six all-gender bathrooms in accessible locations.

Ross said she asked the college a year ago to provide universal restrooms because students of all genders need to be able to use a restroom quickly.

Claire Thomas, a second-year photography student, worked with the group of models for Ross’s class demonstration. She said she felt guilty “when somebody asked where the bathroom is, and [she] could only point them to gendered washrooms.”

Thomas said the A Building’s second floor, where the photography department is located, should have at least one washroom that is accessible to everyone by changing the designation of one of the floor’s washrooms.

“It’s more about the actions than the words,” she said. For her, these changes are a way of showing Langara’s commitment and support to the queer community.

Alejandra Rodriguez, a first-year math student, said she didn’t know Langara has all-gender washrooms in the A Building and has only used such a washroom at the YMCA near Langara.

She said that people who don’t identify as male or female will benefit the most from these changes in the washrooms.

Working towards change

Mono Brown, an English instructor, said they were also following up on the request for changes.

“I’m definitely one of the faculty members who works in the building who feel strongly supportive of the value of more inclusive washrooms,” Brown said.

Langara has a diverse community both in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. Disability is also important when it comes to inclusive washrooms, Brown said.

Brown said the college formed an inclusive washroom committee that has been meeting regularly to discuss the situation. Recently, the committee met with TransFocus Consulting, based in Vancouver, to “ensure that any changes made are truly supportive of the goals of accessibility and inclusivity.”

Langara’s office of equity, diversity and inclusion has been working on inclusive washrooms for at least one semester.

An email from the office to the Voice said it does not have a set timeline yet and is hoping “to see some progress over the next few semesters.”

Recently Langara president Paula Burns announced the launch of the college’s equity, diversity and inclusion framework. The framework did not include a mention of washroom designations.

Washroom infographic

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