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Gender Inclusive Restrooms Sloan - Privacy Stalls

June 08, 2023

Gender-Inclusive Restrooms: Why They Make More Sense Than Ever

A very private matter has been a topic of public debate for many years. The issue of public restrooms and who can use them dates back to the 1960s, when Jim Crow laws in the South segregated restrooms by race. Today, the focus is on what gender can use which restroom. While this debate is likely to continue for years to come, one thing we can all agree on is that it is not about who uses public restrooms, but rather about what is inside of them.

There is no debating that public restrooms are a necessity for everyone, regardless of gender identity. They provide a safe and private place to use the restroom, which is essential for personal hygiene and health. They also offer a space for people to change diapers, wash hands, and take care of personal needs.

The 2021 International Building Code/International Plumbing Code (IBC/IPC) includes two specific amendments that for the first time enforce and support all-gender options.

With the growing movement towards inclusivity, designers, architects, and building contractors and owners have an opportunity to create public restrooms that are accessible, safe, and welcoming for all. 

How Inclusive Restrooms Have Evolved

It may be hard to believe, but family restrooms were not always common. Public family restrooms weren’t introduced until the late ‘90s. This lifted the burden off parents accompanying multiple kids, dads with young daughters, and moms with young sons on which public restroom to use. Today, there are family restrooms in most large public spaces.

As the demographics of the modern family are changing and gender roles are evolving, cities and states are pushing for equal accommodations in restrooms. One in every three kids lives with a single parent, and there are 2.7 million single fathers in the U.S. The BABIES Act, signed into law in 2016, requires federal buildings to place diaper changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms.

However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend towards gender-inclusive restrooms. In 2019, more than 160,000 businesses in the U.S. have a gender-neutral restroom. These restrooms are designed to be used by people of all genders, regardless of their biological sex or gender identity.

As of today, 23 states have adopted gender-neutral restroom laws and more than 200 cities and counties have ordinances to ensure that all people, regardless of their gender identity, have access to safe and sanitary restrooms.

Designing Gender-Inclusive Restrooms

Designing gender-inclusive restrooms requires careful consideration of accessibility, comfort, and privacy. For building owners, contractors, designers, and architects considering gender-inclusive restrooms, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. First, you should make sure that the restrooms are designed to be accessible to everyone. Provide adequate space for wheelchairs and other mobility devices, as well as making sure that the restrooms are well lit and free of obstacles.
  2. Privacy is a must in making everyone feel safe and comfortable. Consider using floor-to-ceiling stalls and doors and providing modesty screens for urinals.
  3. When it comes to signage, make sure it is clear to understand and gender neutral. It’s best to avoid using words like ‘Men’ or ‘Women’ and instead use a pictogram representing the amenity such as ‘Toilet’ or ‘Urinal.’
  4. Finally, keep the restrooms clean and sanitary by providing faucets, soap dispensers, hand dryers, and trash cans. Always make sure that the fixtures and equipment are in good working order.

Sustainability and social sustainability

Gender-inclusive restrooms can help promote sustainability.  Plus, when people are not limited to using a specific restroom, they are less likely to flush toilets unnecessarily because of social pressure.  

Overall, designing gender-inclusive restrooms are just like all other commercial restrooms, and we are your source for ensuring they are sustainable.

Gender-neutral restrooms are more than a nice-to-have; they are becoming essential. As your partner, Sloan can help you create inclusive restrooms that are safe, welcoming, and accessible to everyone.

Sloan helps architects, designers, engineers, and building owners construct stylish, sustainable commercial restrooms. Like to know more? Talk to Sloan!

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