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Signposting Inclusion: On All-Gender Restrooms

Up until Wednesday evening, transgender students had the right to use the bathroom or locker room of their choice while in public schools. President Trump changed that. The departments of Justice and Education rescinded federal guidelines created under the Obama administration that protected transgender students under Title IX and allowed them to use the bathroom or locker room […]

All Gender Restroom sign

All Gender Restroom sign at the Walker. Photo: Chris Cloud

Up until Wednesday evening, transgender students had the right to use the bathroom or locker room of their choice while in public schools. President Trump changed that. The departments of Justice and Education rescinded federal guidelines created under the Obama administration that protected transgender students under Title IX and allowed them to use the bathroom or locker room that best suits their gender identity.

A few months ago, the Walker Art Center unveiled a new lobby, a space resplendent with a canary-yellow entryway, shining floors, and soft, grey couches. There was another addition, too—less heralded, but just as important: public restrooms. To be specific: two single-occupancy restrooms, each with a lock and a baby-changing table.

With these new restrooms came questions: What should they be called? Unisex? Gender-neutral? W.C.? All-gender? And, what should the graphic symbol on the door be? Half man and half woman spliced together? A toilet paper roll? The silhouette of a toilet? A bird’s-eye view of a toilet? As the Walker’s accessibility coordinator, I knew these questions had to be answered by a variety of Walker staff, from different departments and with different perspectives.

We chose the term “All Gender Restroom” because it both emphasizes inclusion and departs from the exclusive gender binary. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden belong to everyone—regardless of their gender orientation or gender identity. We strive to create an environment that supports visitors, employees, and artists no matter where they identify on the gender spectrum.

An art center can serve as a sanctuary to escape the tumult of a cacophonous world. And hopefully, the all-gender restrooms act as a small gesture that say to visitors—and particularly to transgender youth visitors: “You are welcome here.”

And, by the way: we chose the silhouette of a toilet for the graphic symbol because, well, it looked best.

You can find two all-gender restrooms (single-stall, locked bathrooms) in the corridor between the parking garage and the Bazinet Lobby. Men’s and women’s restrooms, as well as a family restroom, are located on the lower level, next to the Art Lab.

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