The Comptroller’s Office is Advocating For Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

A gender neutral bathroom in Washington DC. Photo: Ted Eytan/Flickr Creative Commons

A total of nineteen states throughout the country—as well as Washington DC—have incorporated gender non-specific bathrooms in public places. And now, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has proposed legislation that would bring these bathrooms to the five boroughs, and has backed up his advocacy with a rigorous study that he hopes will change the minds of those opposed to the bill.

The report, which is called Restrooms For All, details that while the New York State assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would formally bar gender-based discrimination throughout New York, the State Senate has refused to even discuss the law. The State Senate seems pretty intransigent on this one, being that GENDA has been passed by the New York State assembly for eight consecutive years.

But the comptroller’s proposed law seeks to put New York City on the same plane as several prominent universities and even the White House, by “requiring existing single-occupancy, publicly accessible restrooms to become gender-neutral, in both public and private buildings; and by changing City codes to give more building owners the opportunity to designate gender-neutral bathrooms.”

The law would be an easy fix, and an inexpensive one too. “Beyond the nominal cost of signage, this change would not impose any additional burden on businesses,” that convert single occupancy bathrooms, the report states.  “We’re not talking about constructing new bathrooms or spending any money, except basically purchasing a sign,” Stringer told the Associated Press late last month.

Stringer’s law would also override legislation passed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg that forbade any discussion of gender in New York City legislation. In other words, the comptroller’s law would be a much more symbolic victory for gender-neutrality than a grand overhaul of any dense legal framework.

However, the gender-neutral law would be functioning under the city’s latest building code, which mandates that all restaurants and coffee shops with occupancies of greater than thirty must provide gender-specific bathrooms. Still, it seems like an easy accommodation to make for a citywide community of 25,000 that will only continue to grow.

Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster 

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