Dublin City University (DCU) has opened 54 gender neutral bathrooms across its three campuses.
The Universal Access Bathrooms were introduced on May 15th after the students’ union was mandated by class representatives in the 2015/16 academic year to implement gender neutral bathrooms.
Some of the college’s disability access bathrooms were upgraded to Universal Access Bathrooms with signage now containing an image of a male, a female, a body which shows half a male and half a female and a disabled symbol.
“We didn’t modify any disability access bathroom on any ground floor building or any bathroom that had harnesses attached to them. We left them untouched so that the priority was explicitly given to students with disabilities,” said DCU welfare and equality officer Cody Byrne.
“A lot of other colleges in the country have it already done so we sort of just followed their model of modifying the disability access bathrooms which are frequent amongst all the buildings on campus. We decided to change the signage on them rather than remodelling all the bathrooms entirely. It was just a bit more cost efficient.
“Every other future development with regards to construction will take into account the gender neutral bathrooms. For example, at the Glasnevin campus there will be a three-storey hub being completed in February 2018 so they will also have gender neutral bathrooms.”
Mr Byrne said providing the gender neutral bathrooms would ensure “a sense of community” among all students.
Trinity College Dublin unveiled six gender neutral bathrooms in its Arts Building in September 2016. A motion was passed at a meeting of its students’ union last December that gender neutral bathrooms would be made available at all union events where feasible.
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) unveiled 51 gender neutral bathrooms across its five campuses in April.
Most of those gender neutral bathrooms had previously been specifically disability access bathrooms.
Michael Murphy, WIT Student Union welfare officer said: “What we found out after we did a bit of research on it, was that the people who want or need to use gender neutral bathrooms had already been using the disabled bathrooms.
“So it was never going to increase traffic to the disability access bathrooms, it was simply going to make people in our community feel comfortable in that space and sending out a message that we’re aware of your needs.”
A report published by Glen, the Gay and Lesbian Equality network with the support of the Department of Education in January 2016, on how to support LGBT secondary school students noted that transgender students “should be able to access toilet and changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity”.
“Being able to access gender neutral toilets may be particularly important during transition; gender neutral toilets might be provided by re-naming a disability toilet as a unisex toilet/changing facility,” it said.
US president Donald Trump revoked guidance to public schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice last February, reversing an initiative of former president Barack Obama.