As a university recommitting itself to inclusion, USC has seen much progress through the multiple diversity measures implemented over the past academic year. On Tuesday, Provost Michael Quick released a comprehensive diversity inclusion memorandum regarding the progress of racial and socioeconomic inclusion on campus. However, though comprehensive, these initiatives do not encompass gender fluidity or transgender rights. Luckily, a new initiative by USC may be the beginning of a more inclusive campus culture, around not just race, but also gender.
As Trojans walk around campus over the last few weeks, they may have noticed an increase in the gray signage on restrooms labeled as “All Gender Restroom.” These restrooms allow transgender and gender-nonconforming people to use bathrooms void of gender identity. They are nonexclusive to cisgender people and provide an environment without judgement or stigma.
USC has been transforming single occupancy restrooms to gender-neutral restrooms since 2011, and there are now single-stalled gender-neutral restrooms in more than 13 buildings on campus. However, there are only two buildings — the United University Church and Hedco Neurosciences Building — that have multi-stalled gender-neutral restrooms.
Implementing a campus-wide policy to transform all single occupancy restrooms into gender-inclusive restrooms is a step in the right direction for USC. It is the role of the University to make all students feel safe and welcome, whether that involves racial or gender diversity. USC was one of the first universities in the nation to add gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policy in 2004. As a result, the Gender Equality National Index for Universities and Schools highlighted USC as a diversity leader in this field in 2006.
But these efforts should not stop here. USC should live up to its status as a diversity leader and focus on transforming all multistall restrooms on campus to all-gender restrooms to further diversify our campus and allow for freedom of gender expression.
Central buildings on campus, such as Doheny Memorial Library, Von Kleinsmid Library and Leavey Library should be the first buildings to transform all multi-stall restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms. These libraries are central study hubs for students and should be addressed first for accessibility and convenience to students.
USC Libraries Associate Dean for Planning and Communications Hugh McHarg told the Daily Trojan that the push for gender-neutral restrooms first began in Doheny with the implementation of gender-neutral single occupancy restrooms on the first floor. He said that single occupancy restrooms are easier and faster to convert to gender-neutral restrooms than multi-stall restrooms, which require a more comprehensive look at space and the facilities available.
McHarg also said USC Libraries is planning on expanding all-gender, multi-stall restrooms in Leavey as well, in the coming months.
Though the expansion is a major achievement in all gender inclusiveness, USC is already behind the other 150 colleges and universities who have also launched and established gender-neutral restrooms across campus. The University of California system is the first university system in the United States to designate all single-stall restrooms as gender-neutral at all of its campuses.
These inclusive measures send a positive message to not only the USC community, but also the general Los Angeles community as well by defining USC as an institution that supports diversity and inclusion. By providing a safe place for all genders, transgender people and gender-nonconforming individuals, USC confirming its support to these communities.
The rise of gender-neutral restrooms at USC and comparable universities has broader implications. As a society, we are moving away from a narrow-minded notion of binary gender and moving into a new era of acceptance, which fosters individual growth, creativity and expression. This growth is a positive turning point in our country’s fight for social justice and LGBTQ rights and will influence future generations to grow up accepting all genders as the norm.