Carnegie Mellon: sex-separated bathrooms are in name only

"Inclusive restrooms meet a basic need for all members of our community," the school says.

The school's sex-specific restroom designations are merely in place to comply with building codes.

Despite signage indicating that the restrooms are sex-segregated, Carnegie Mellon University has taken to stating otherwise.

A photograph taken on the university’s campus shows that the restroom is designated as being for “Women,” though a plaque below indicates that the restroom is not, indeed, for women alone. 

The bathroom plaque

“Carnegie Mellon University is committed to serving our gender diverse community,” the plaque reads. “Although required by state code to label multi-user restrooms as men/women, CMU continues to support an individual’s decision to use a restroom they find welcoming and safe.”

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According to the university’s website, the school displays this plaque on the outside of every restroom. On the inside, the school features a second variation of the plaque. 

“Existing state code requirements for restroom designations do not serve our gender diverse community,” the other plaque reads. “While we continue to advocate for updating building codes, and in accordance with the university statement of assurance, CMU fully supports an individual’s decision to use a restroom they find welcoming and safe.”

“Thank you for helping to make Carnegie Mellon a more inclusive environment,” it continues.

“For concerns about harassment, discrimination or safety,” the plaque instructs students to email Carnegie Mellon’s Office for Institutional Equity and Title IX. 

The “state code” in question refers to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania’s Ordinance #12235-22, which states that “[w]here plumbing fixtures are required, separate facilities shall be provided for each sex” except in cases of dwelling or sleeping units, structures with a maximum occupancy of 15, and “mercantile occupancies” designed to hold a maximum of 50 people.

The school seeks to adopt the 2021 International Plumbing Code, which says that “[s]eparate facilities shall not be required where rooms having both water closets and lavatory fixtures and are designed for use by both sexes and privacy for water closets is provided.”

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“Inclusive restrooms meet a basic need for all members of our community, including gender-diverse individuals, caregivers and those who need their assistance, and people with limited mobility who then have the option to use the closest restroom,” the university concludes.

“These signs, and future plans to expand and create more inclusive, non-gendered facilities on campus, are important measures that Carnegie Mellon is taking to create safe, sustainable and inclusive public restrooms for everyone regardless of age, gender, race, religion and disability.”

Campus Reform reached out to Carnegie Mellon and the Office for Institutional Equity and Title IX for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.