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In The News

College of Marin Students Lead Effort to Create All-gender Restrooms on Campus

On March 1, a new California law goes into effect requiring that all single-occupancy restrooms be designated as gender neutral. The law requires that businesses and governments post signs on all single-occupancy restrooms designating them as non-gender specific by March 1, 2017. Introduced by democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, the legislation establishes the nation’s most inclusive restroom-access law.

Thanks to an effort led by the Students for Social Justice, COM is in already in compliance with the law. Single-stall, all-gender restroom facilities were made available to the campus community in spring 2015. Advised by Behavioral Sciences Instructor Susan Rahman and Assistive Technology Specialist Elle Dimopoulos, Students for Social Justice began raising awareness of this issue in November 2014 by sending a survey to gauge interest in creating all-gender restrooms on campus. After garnering campus-wide support, the student members worked with staff, faculty, and administrators to research signage that aligned with COM’s mission of accessibility, equity, and community. During the process, Nathan Bowman, president of Students for Social Justice, spoke with members of the College’s Participatory Governance System about all-gender restrooms and why they are so important.

“Not only are all-gender facilities an equity issue for the LGBTIQQ community but they are also an issue of student safety,” said Bowman. “They provide options to non-traditional students who have children requiring a family bathroom as well as students who have mobility challenges.”

By 2015, COM had created a total of 16 single-occupancy, all-gender restroom facilities on its campuses, with an additional six being created in 2017 at the Indian Valley Campus.

Findings from a 2013 survey and report published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law show that gender-specific restrooms pose serious risks to transgender individuals due to bias and discrimination. A joint decision by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice was made last week to rescind federal guidelines protecting the rights of transgender students by allowing them to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity. Following the decision, a group of 19 education organizations issued a statement on the action. These and many other education leaders feel strongly that it is the responsibility of schools to provide a safe learning environment for students.

Reiterating COM’s commitment to supporting all students, Superintendent/President Dr. David Wain Coon said, “It is the College’s mission to provide equitable opportunities to all members of our community. We also recognize that the depth and breadth of our community continues to grow in its diversity and we proudly support transgender students and staff, as well as the LGBT+ community as a whole.” 

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