Originally, Student Life was adding gender-neutral bathrooms. It’s now calling them private bathrooms. The terms have the same meanings, but different implications. It’s a shame that the “gender-neutral” implications have caused pause.At Illinois State University, “all-gender” signs replaced the “family” ones. No change at all was made to the functions of the bathrooms, according to a July 2014 article from videtteonline.com. The idea was that it wouldn’t make any difference to anyone but the people it affected positively, like the transgender community. This is how the Whitworth “private” bathroom situation should be approached.
It makes sense because Whitworth is a private Christian university. The problems the bathrooms (specifically the vocabulary) could cause could outweigh the number of people it would benefit. However, this is no reason for Student Life and anyone else involved to shy away from the reason for implementing the changes.
It’s important to remember that gender-neutral bathrooms are not just for transgender students. Anyone can use them. Since they function as private bathrooms, they also benefit families and disabled people. Or, really, anyone who wants a little more privacy.
The safety of transgender students is also a factor. Physical or emotional harassment is always a possible danger for transgender people, especially in bathrooms where confrontation is easy.
No matter what they’ll be called, the fact remains that Whitworth will soon have lockable bathrooms to accommodate anyone who was previously uncomfortable. Hopefully, Student Life will follow through on this commitment to private bathrooms soon.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.