Flagstaff Considering Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Flagstaff Considering Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

By Corinne Murdock |

Flagstaff City Council will consider requiring all single occupancy public restrooms to be gender-neutral. Affected restrooms would be those in city-owned buildings designed for one person, a family, or assisted use. 

If enacted, the affected restrooms would be required to have “nongendered signage.” Instead, signs would read: “gender neutral,” “all gender,” or “restroom” without reference to a specific gender. 

The Commission on Diversity Awareness characterized the change as equitable and ensuring safety for “gender non-conforming persons.” The commission also urged the council to recommend gender-neutral restrooms for all others not owned by the city. 

The proposed push for gender-neutral restrooms arose out of the city’s application of the Municipal Equality Index: a metric designed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ activist and lobbying group in the country. The index measures from 0 to 100 the inclusivity of laws, policies, and services within five categories: non-discrimination laws, municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and leadership on LGBTQ equality. 

Flagstaff scored 88 out of 100. They lost points in areas related to housing, health care, conversion therapy, youth bullying prevention, general resources, and all-gender facilities. 

Some private facilities took the step toward gender-neutral accommodations years ago. The Flagstaff YMCA changed its single occupancy restrooms into gender-neutral ones in 2016 after a young transgender male lodged a complaint. The operations director received Northern Arizona University (NAU) LGBTQIA’s Ally of the Year award. The director reported that the sign change impacted the transgender male so profoundly that the parents cried over it. NAU established gender-neutral restrooms in 2015. 

The site refugerestrooms.org lists the location of gender-neutral restrooms on Flagstaff and nationwide. The restroom locator service also comes in the form of an app. 

The city commission discussed the policy proposal on Tuesday. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.