RIT permits locker room use based on gender identity but admits it would be 'awkward' for a man to be in a women's locker room

'Patrons, including children age 8 and older, may utilize facilities consistent with their gender identity,' Rochester Institute of Technology’s policy states

At the hearing, university officials told a research assistant that 'men shouldn't enter the women's locker room and the other way around, because that would be awkward,' the research assistant told Campus Reform.

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) explicitly permits individuals to utilize facilities in alignment with a person’s gender identity, but the university levied three charges against a male graduate research assistant for allegedly accidentally entering a women’s locker room in early July, admitting later that it would be “awkward” for a male to be in a women’s locker room. 

RIT scheduled a hearing for Aug. 17, but dropped the charges, giving the research assistant, who asked to remain anonymous, only a warning. 

The university’s policy, as detailed in a YouTube video shared by RIT student life, remains unchanged from the time of the incident. The video features a gender-neutral locker room situated at the rear of the designated men’s locker room, as well as a separate gender-neutral restroom located at the back of the designated women’s locker room. In the video, the facilities are referred to as the “left” room and the “right” room, rather than using gender-specific labels.


An identification card is required to swipe into the gender-neutral spaces, the video shows. Students can request swipe card access to use the all-gender locker rooms. Each has three showers and toilets, two sinks, and a small bench, according to RIT’s website. 

”Students, faculty, staff, or alumni who identify as transgender and/or non-binary, who have or are transitioning, ‘or simply don’t feel comfortable changing in front of other people and want to use that space for a bit more privacy,’” can use the all-gender locker rooms, said David Stevens, the director of the Center for Recreational Sports. 

“Patrons, including children age 8 and older, may utilize facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the Hale-Andrews Student Life Center website reads.

An RIT Office of Student Life representative confirmed with Campus Reform that an individual who claims they are nonbinary can enter either the men’s or women’s locker room to access either ‘all-gender space.’

[RELATED: Berkeley student fees fund $2.7M gender-neutral locker room]

The graduate research assistant is “relieved that it’s over, but the whole thing took a month,” he told Campus Reform. It began July 8, when he entered the women’s locker room.

“I was just walking around campus, and I was in part of the gym area where I normally don’t go, and I took a turn and I saw a sign that said ‘all-gender locker room,’” the 30-year-old research assistant told Campus Reform July 25. “I kept walking, and I realized this room was actually inside the women’s locker room for some reason, so I ran out covering my eyes, but a security camera caught me.”

The research assistant, who is autistic, said he did not remember how he got lost until he retraced his steps and saw the all-gender locker room was inside the women’s room and became “confused.” Public Safety Investigator Ann Mercer had contacted him a few days after reviewing the camera footage.  

After his conversation with Mercer, Thomas S. Gordner Jr., the assistant director of the Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, told the research assistant on July 14 that he is not allowed to utilize the Student Life Center or Gordon Field House unless approved by Public Safety or the Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

The research assistant then explained the situation to Kelly Kamish, the assistant director of campus life of Women and Gender Student Affairs, via email on July 24 and asked if they could meet. 

Kamish works at the Women Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which is part the Progressive Intersectional Place to Meet (PRISM). PRISM had collaborated with Stevens on creating the all-gender bathroom policies, according to RIT’s website.

The research assistant, who referred to himself in the email as a “cis white straight mail,” asked Kamish if a woman would be able to enter the men’s locker room, and “vice versa (since they are all-gender)? What about trans/nonbinary individuals?” The research assistant said he didn’t see any rules that say otherwise. 

“I am not sure we are the right people to talk to about this,” Kamish replied on July 24, before referring the research assistant to Stevens.

The research assistant then detailed what happened in a July 25 email to Stevens. 

Stevens responded to that email on July 27, saying “These signs are clearly posted directly outside of the spaces. This policy and the use of the space was developed closely with staff from the Women Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.” This would be Kamish’s department.

Matt Lembke, the research assistant’s attorney, told Campus Reform on July 25 that he had hoped the student would get a benign letter from the university that says to “be careful.” 

The research assistant also told Campus Reform he hoped the case would get dropped and that they will “rebuild the entrance of this all-gender locker room outside the men’s and women’s locker rooms to create better boundaries.”

Instead, the Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution charged the research assistant on Aug. 4 with “disruptive behavior,” “endangering behavior,” and violating RIT’s policies, according to a document obtained by Campus Reform.

At the hearing, university officials told the research assistant that “men shouldn’t enter the women’s locker room and the other way around, because that would be awkward,” he told Campus Reform

“I am a man that identifies as a man, but the double standards are astounding given that I didn’t even use the locker room but accidentally ran through,” the research assistant concluded.

On August 17, Gordner Jr. sent a letter to the research assistant. The letter, obtained by Campus Reform, shows that the charges were completely dismissed, with the initial charge of endangering students completely removed. 

Still, Gordner writes, “I hope that you have had a valuable learning experience in this process.”  

Campus Reform contacted Stevens and Kamish for comment. They did not respond. This article will be updated accordingly.  

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