Student legislators at Florida States University are working to make their campus more gender neutral, passing a resolution that removes the male and female labels from restrooms on campus in an effort to better accommodate transgender students.
Senate Resolution 74 designates two bathrooms on campus as gender neutral, allowing “any person regardless of their gender identity and/or gender expression” to use the facilities, the resolution states. The provision went before Florida State’s student Senate last week and was passed by an overwhelming majority, with 37 student senators approving the measure and one voting against it.
“The Student Body believes in the importance of protecting and providing inclusive facilities for all Florida State students regardless of their gender identity and/or their gender expression,” the resolution states.
It goes on to detail the university’s non-discrimination policy, which the bill’s sponsor, Leah Montenegro, cited as precedent for deeming the two restrooms — located in the student union — as gender neutral.
“We took the bathrooms in the SGA offices that are noted handicap and boy/girl and we changed them so it wouldn’t just be [male or female] to gender-neutral, so that includes people who are transgender and people who don’t identify their gender through biology but by their own individuality and expression,” Montenegro told fsunews.com.
The student senator worked closely with Tori Gentry, director of Florida State’s Pride Student Union, in designating the restrooms as gender neutral.
“Tori contacted me and she told me there has been a need for students who don’t identify themselves as being a specific boy or girl, that they don’t feel the campus is inclusive, so we made it our goal to see that there were bathrooms that were available for students who need no specific kind of utilities for them,” Montenegro said.
Advocates of gender equality and members of Pride hope the Senate’s action will act as a catalyst for restrooms campus-wide to be designated as gender neutral.
“We definitely want this to move across campus. There is definitely more work to be done toward education and we learned from working with the Senate on how to educate the student body,” Jarryd Boyd, public relations coordinator for Pride, told fsunews.com. “It’s definitely something we will keep pushing forward [with adding more gender-neutral bathrooms], but we need to put in the time, the work and the research to make sure people really feel comfortable with the decision.”
Schools across Florida have designated restrooms as gender-neutral. At New College of Florida, the majority of bathrooms on the Sarasota campus accommodate transgender students. And at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, nine are gender neutral.