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A Step Forward For Gender Inclusivity

Left%3A+Posted+by+%40wocodiversity+on+Instagram.+Right%3A+An+all-gender+restroom+sign
Left: Posted by @wocodiversity on Instagram. Right: An all-gender restroom sign

All-gender restrooms create a more inclusive campus for transgender staff and students

Led by Taifha Alexander, Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity & Leadership development, and supported significantly by Dave Kusher, professor of biology, the All-Gender Restroom initiative succeeded in placing all-gender restrooms around Wofford’s campus.

While all-gender restrooms are sometimes referred to as gender neutral restrooms, Alexander explained the initiative’s choice of words: “I want to clarify that the graphics that were shared on the ODI Instagram page used the inaccurate phrase of gender-neutral restrooms when they should have instead been classified as All-Gender. The term all-gender is more inclusive and allows for every gender to be included, even agender folx.”

She continued onto the beginnings of the project: “one of my main goals when I arrived on campus on Jan. 13, 2020 was to increase the number of All-Gender Restrooms on campus, with the ultimate goal of establishing at least one restroom in each building. As a result, within my first week of being on campus, I met with Dr. Kusher, who was already in communication with different people on campus before my arrival to increase the number of All-Gender Restrooms on campus, and had already identified some spaces on campus.”

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According to Alexander, due to COVID-19, the project was stalled a little bit. Though the restrooms were ready to be established last school year, the closure of the school pushed the establishment to this September.

“We communicated at that point with Chris Gardner and the Facilities staff, who were extremely helpful, to purchase the All-Gender Restroom signs,”Alexander said. 

Alexander: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and overall budgetary freezing, the signs were not purchased or installed until after Sept. 1, 2020. After that point, ODI’s student coordinators, Isaiah Franco, Sera Guerry and Parke Faison ensured that the signs were installed in the appropriate places.  Sera and myself then collaborated with professor Michael Webster in the Studio Art department and Karyn Davis in the Office of Marketing and Communication  to create the All-Gender Restroom Map which we made available on ODI’s website and other places on campus.”

I also asked about the importance of taking this step to create a more welcoming environment for transgender and gender-nonconforming students and staff. Alexander also explained the importance of taking this step to create a more welcoming environment for transgender and gender-nonconforming students and staff.

“When the only available restroom areas are designated specifically for male or female users, individuals who do not identify as either are oftentimes humiliated, confused, and may even put themselves in danger by visiting a restroom,” Alexander  said.

She also spoke on the dangers of lacking safe and inclusive restrooms for transgender people on campus., adding that, “Research has shown that more than one in 10 transgender individuals report that they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom.”

“According to the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” Alexander said, “more than half of respondents avoided using a public restroom that year because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems they might experience. The same survey indicated that almost half reported experiencing verbal harassment in the past year.”

As shown in the image, the locations of All-Gender restrooms on Wofford’s campus are Carlisle Hall, the Center for Community-Based Learning, Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, Joe E. Taylor Athletic Center, Main Building, Sandor Teszler Library, the Career Center, the Village laundry room and the Wofford College Bookstore. Exact locations are included next to the building names, and each restroom is marked with a sign outside.

The restrooms are single-user spaces open for anyone of any gender identity to use. As Alexander a concluded, “to ensure Wofford has an inclusive climate where all Terriers feel safe, visible, and valued, initiatives like the Lights on Main in honor of LGBT History Month and increasing the number of All-Gender Restrooms on campus contribute to the collective wellness of the College in a way that allows all of us to Conquer and Prevail.”

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