Schools settle on 'toilet' as most 'inclusive' bathroom sign

Anthony Gockowski
Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

  • As universities scramble to accommodate transgender students, some are struggling to please student activists who are complaining that updated bathroom signs are still not inclusive enough.
  • At both Mizzou and UNO, the new signs will feature a toilet symbol in place of stick figures, while students at UNC are complaining that the school's new signs don't include the transgender icon.
  • Students are demanding that 'unisex' signs be replaced with more-'inclusive' toilet symbols.

    As universities scramble to accommodate transgender students, some are struggling to please student activists who are complaining that updated bathroom signs are still not inclusive enough.

    At the University of Missouri (which is still suffering fallout from last year’s campus protests), for instance, all bathroom signs will be labeled “toilet” rather than the former “unisex” label after the Student Senate passed a resolution condemning the prior language as intolerant.

    “Unisex is just such an uncomfortable and outdated word.”   

    According to the resolution, the change will “make MU’s campus bathrooms more accessible to trans and gender non-conforming students.”

    [RELATED: Yale says all-gender bathroom project is about ‘public signaling’]

    Sterling Waldman, the senator who authored the bill, lambasted the term “unisex” as a way to exclude those who do not identify as male or female, thus conforming to the dreadful gender binary.

    “Unisex is just such an uncomfortable and outdated word,” he told The Columbia Missourian.

    The cost of replacing all relevant signs is estimated at $11,600, meaning many bathrooms won’t receive updated signage, since the school is just beginning the process of digging itself out of a $32 million financial hole.

    Similarly, the University of Nebraska at Omaha is updating the signage on 22 of its single-stall restrooms to depict a solitary toilet indicating that the bathroom is open to absolutely everyone, replacing the familiar gender-specific stick figures. The new signs will also feature an icon of an infant to indicate the presence of changing tables, and a wheelchair to denote handicap-accessible facilities.

    “We wanted to showcase our value system as a UNO campus and say that we expect you to feel safe and welcome on this campus,” Jessi Hitchins, director of the gender and sexuality resource center, told The Gateway. “We are putting these signs out there that are not only going to have no gender signage in our all-inclusive gender bathroom, but the changing space and active wheelchair symbol, and that really goes to the fact that we want people to know this is a safe and welcoming space for them.”

    [RELATED: WVU opens gender-neutral bathrooms, ignores handicap accessibility]

    Meanwhile, students at the University of North Carolina are complaining about new federally mandated bathroom symbols because they do not have enough “gender signage.”

    Specifically, they were upset that some newly-installed signs did not include the transgender pictogram, but rather depicted a stationary man, woman, and disabled person.

    As a result, students complained that the change was “hurtful” and an indication that they “don’t have safe spaces on campus,” noting that the new signs assume that all people “conform to gender binaries.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski





    Anthony Gockowski

    Anthony Gockowski

    Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

    Anthony Gockowski is the Contributing Editor and an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, Intercollegiate Review, The Catholic Spirit, and The College Fix.

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