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UCLA to put up gender-inclusive signs for certain campus restrooms

By Joseph Vescera

July 7, 2014 7:42 a.m.

UCLA will change the signs on about 20 single-stall restrooms over the summer to make them gender-inclusive.

The initiative, which some students in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community started pushing for more than three years ago, is meant to make some students feel more comfortable using campus restrooms.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council Student Wellness Commission donated $6,000 in early June to the UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center to create signs for the restrooms, said Savannah Badalich, USAC Student Wellness commissioner.

Each sign will cost between $250 and $300, and the design for the signs is not yet confirmed, said Raja Bhattar, the LGBT Campus Resource Center director.

UCLA currently has more than 25 gender-inclusive bathrooms in multiple buildings in both North and South Campus.

The USAC Student Wellness Commission, USAC Facilities Commissioner Carlos Quintanilla and Bhattar are leading the effort to increase the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus, Badalich said.

These bathrooms are supported by members of the UCLA LGBT community because they allow students in the transgender community and others to feel more comfortable on campus by giving them the option to use bathrooms they prefer, Bhattar said.

He added that some students elected not to take classes in buildings without these amenities because they do not provide gender-inclusive bathrooms.

“Students can’t even figure out where to go pee, and they’re expected to be fully functioning students,” Bhattar said.

Badalich said she hopes the new bathrooms will start a healthy conversation about gender and sexuality that will make students more open to each others’ differences.

Quintanilla said that he, Badalich and Bhattar are working with UCLA Facilities and administrators, like Mick Deluca, executive director of recreation and campus life, to make the changes. He added that they are also searching for more stable funding sources for additional sign changes and building a website detailing the project’s initiatives and projected timeline that will link from the LGBT Campus Resource Center page.

Pamela Thomason, the sexual harassment coordinator and Title IX officer at UCLA, said she supports the proposal for more gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus and the Hill.

“It’s a fantastic idea, and one that doesn’t cost a lot of money,” Thomason said.

Badalich said she thinks the residence halls present the most pressing need for more gender-inclusive bathrooms because they provide important personal space for students.

Badalich said the Student Wellness Commission hopes to work with the Office of Residential Life in the future to create a pilot program for having gender-inclusive bathrooms on certain residence hall floors.

She added that she thinks walking to the closest inclusive restrooms near Drake Stadium from the residence halls is too far for students on the Hill to travel just to use the bathroom.

Some students said they do not see gender-inclusive bathrooms as a pressing issue.

Cody Keim, a third-year political science student, said he does not see an immediate need for more gender-inclusive bathrooms given how many already exist on campus.

However, Keim said he thinks having more gender-inclusive bathrooms at UCLA could help some students feel more comfortable on campus.

Sonia Zamora, a third-year Spanish and Portuguese student, said she would not be opposed to any new gender-inclusive restrooms on campus or in the residence halls.

“I’m all for inclusivity, so I would be totally fine with it,” Zamora said.

Badalich said the official sign design should be approved by the end of July.

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Joseph Vescera
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