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Colleges Embrace Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

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Colleges across the country have been installing gender-neutral bathrooms in order to create a more inclusive environment for trans and non-gender-conforming students.

Northwestern University and Illinois State University are among the schools to have introduced gender-neutral bathrooms on campus most recently. These restrooms are open to students of any gender so that they can "feel safe, regardless of gender expression or gender identity,"according to Michelle Margulis, president of Northestern's Rainbow Alliance LGBT student group. The push for safety is crucial; elsewhere and in the past, trans and non-gender-conforming students have been banned from using school restrooms and harassed in public ones. 

"Most folks don't think twice about using the restroom, but for transgender people, accessing the restroom that matches our gender identity too often results in ridicule or violence,"says Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. "Those of us who don't fit narrow gender stereotypes -- including transgender people transitioning from one gender to another -- are most likely to be targeted."

As of now, more than 150 schools across the U.S. have embraced gender-neutral bathrooms to give all students, regardless of gender identity, some peace of mind. 

Forcing trans or non-gender-conforming students to use a traditionally gendered bathroom "repeatedly 'outs' them to other students or employees and stigmatizes them daily by singling them out and prevents them from having critical peer experiences,"says Sasha Buchert, staff attorney for the Transgender Law Center. "Trans and gender nonconforming students should be focusing on their education or getting their job done well, and not about which bathroom they can use."


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