SGA Senator Seeks to Increase Gender-Inclusive Restrooms
Leonardo Rodriguez, Student Government Association (SGA) head senator at the Andrew Young School of Policy, has begun to write new legislation to expand the number of gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.
It’s [the bill] to expand those numbers [gender-inclusive restrooms] so that LGBTQ students, trans students, or non-conforming students can feel more comfortable and have easier access to restrooms that fit their needs.
~ Leonardo Rodriguez.
Before presenting the bill to SGA, Rodriguez said he wants to meet with a crowd of LGBTQIA students and discuss the challenges they face on campus.
I am meeting with these students and getting their input because they already face marginalization on a daily basis because of their identity, so that’s one of the steps that I want to take.
~ Leonardo Rodriguez
Georgia State student, Alexandra Chase, said the few bathrooms that Georgia State does have are hidden or require extra steps to gain access.
There aren’t enough gender-neutral bathrooms and the ones that are, are not publicized at all. They’re behind locked doors and you have to ask for the keys most of the time. The only one that I know that’s around this area [Library Plaza] is in the basement of Kell Hall.
~ Alexandra Chase
Being forced to use gender-specific bathrooms opens the individual to hateful comments, looks and the possibility of violence, according to Chase.
Trans folks experience increased harassment in gendered bathrooms, especially those who don’t fit into what society says a woman or a man looks like, so it’s either I’m going to go to the male bathroom and get harassed or I’m going to the female bathroom and get harassed. There’s no really clear way.
~ Alexandra Chase
If the bill is approved by SGA, Rodriguez plans on sending it to university president Mark Becker who will have the final say on whether or not it may be implemented around campus. In the occasion where he doesn’t approve the bill, Rodriguez said he plans on finding a way to keep pushing it until it is. After student complaints, Georgia State began a university-wide audit on gender-inclusive restrooms to figure out if the trans restroom locations are feasible and fair. Rodriguez said that he has been working with the Dean of Students Darryl Holloman in gathering data for the bill.
We were getting some feedback that some of them [gender-inclusive restrooms] were inoperable, some of them were in remote areas. So we did an audit to see where they were on campus. And to ensure that we were being compliant with the latest letter from Leonardo on transgender concerns.
~ Darryl Holloman, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
Annette Butler, director of AA/EEO training and compliance, is conducting the audit and is in charge of verifying regulations in regards to restrooms and checking with the federal government to ensure that the university is working within their limits on helping Rodriguez achieve the goal of his bill, according to Holloman.
These restrooms really help to provide choice for students because you don’t want to say the trans restrooms are just for trans students, right? They are an opportunity that if people feel uncomfortable or unsafe that they have safe spaces that they can utilize.
~ Darryl Holloman
Rodriguez feels this is prejudice against LGBTQIA students at Georgia State.
The restroom is not a safe haven; it doesn’t protect you from all the evils of the world. So it’s just a lot of misunderstanding. A trans woman is still a woman and a fair solution to all of this would be gender-inclusive restrooms where it’s fair for both sides.
~ Leonardo Rodriguez
But there are some legal barriers to the proposed bill. Title IX is a constitutional amendment that protects people from discrimination based on their sex in education programs or activities that are federally funded. However, in the state of Georgia, people are required to use restrooms of their designated sex that matches their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity. This policy is under attack by those who say it violates Title IX.