A launch party for a bathroom is not something students usually hear about on campus.
But Q, Barnard’s queer student group, will hold an information session and then flyering party Tuesday night—the first day of Queer Awareness Month—for new gender-inclusive bathroom signs that have been installed over the past two weeks on Barnard’s campus.
The project to put a single-stall gender-inclusive bathroom in every building on Barnard’s campus has been a combined effort of Barnard’s Student Government Association, Barnard administrators, and Q.
“The idea is to have a space where people who don’t feel safe in gendered restrooms can pee in peace,” Caleb LoSchiavo, BC ’15 and co-president of GendeRevolution, said, stressing that bathrooms can be unsafe places for any transgender person.
Progress on the project started at last February’s Queer Issues Forum, Maddy Popkin, BC ’14 and SGA president, said. Popkin started campaigning for the bathroom change last semester when she was president of Q.
“There were about 60 or 70 students who came, and everyone was super positive about” the bathrooms, Popkin said.
Over the summer, Q and Barnard’s communications department worked on marketing and creating signs for the doors of the bathrooms, many of which used to be reserved for women or handicapped people.
After considering a bi-gender or script-only sign, they settled on a toilet and faucet design.
“That’s what you’re going to get in a bathroom—not a man stick figure or a woman stick figure,” Lauren Malotra-Gaudet, BC ’15 and current Q president, said.
Along with the signage, the vocabulary used to describe the project also changed. The bathrooms were originally called “gender-neutral.”
“It’s kind of annoying and pretentious that we’re trying to recreate this, but gender-inclusive bathrooms are supposed to be bathrooms where anyone of any gender identity can pee,” Malotra-Gaudet said. “Gender-neutral seems to turn us into Kens or Barbies. … We want to be inclusive of everybody whether you’re gender-deviant or not.”
The biggest hitch in the plan has been putting a gender-inclusive bathroom in the Diana Center. In every other building on Barnard’s campus, the project has involved simply reassigning existing single-stall bathrooms as gender-inclusive, but the Diana Center has no single-stall bathrooms.
“We are in the process of receiving bids to remodel one of the upper floor bathrooms in the Diana Center into a family-friendly, single-stall gender inclusive bathroom and are planning to pay for the work,” Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson said in an email.
The construction date is tentatively scheduled for mid- to-late November.
The focus on a relatively small project like re-signing single-stall bathrooms marks a turn in Q’s focus, from broad ideas to specific, manageable steps.
Q decided last year to focus on creating gender-inclusive bathrooms, and the group found the administration to be “actually really helpful,” Malotra-Gaudet said.
Following the February forum, Q initiated practical work on the project and was joined by the SGA and the Barnard administration.
“The Barnard administrators have been good about setting aside time to meet with us and really sitting down to listen to our concerns,” LoSchiavo said.
Student responses to the plan have been generally positive so far.
“Some of my friends will feel more comfortable using them,” Mei Schultz, CC ’17, said.
Q would like this project to be the first step in a larger plan to make multi-stall gender-inclusive bathrooms.
“Hopefully with the changing times at Barnard, we will be able to get a multi-stall bathroom,” Malotra-Gaudet said.
The bathroom information session and flyering will take place Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Well Woman office at Barnard.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that LoSchiavo was a member of Q and that the information session and flyering would take place Tuesday. The event will take place Wednesday. Spectator regrets the errors.