University News

Most support at least some co-ed bathrooms

Gay, agnostic and atheist students were likelier to support gender neutral bathrooms

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 25, 2013
This article is part of the series Fall 2013 Student Poll 1

Roughly 28 percent of students support making all multi-user bathrooms gender-neutral, 47 percent support making some bathrooms gender-neutral and 15 percent do not support converting any bathrooms, according to a recent poll conducted by The Herald.

Students who identified as gay were significantly likelier to support converting all bathrooms to gender-neutral than were heterosexual or bisexual students, the poll found.

Male students were about three times more likely than female students to say they did not have a preference about the issue. Agnostic and atheist students were likelier to support converting some or all bathrooms than students who identified as practicing any religion.

A plurality of respondents favored the conversion of some, but not all, bathrooms to gender-neutral.

Isabel Balazs ’17 said though she does support having gender-neutral bathrooms, it is “harmful” for people to disregard the gender-separated facilities in case someone has experienced “some sort of sexual trauma.”

Lena Barsky ’14 also said dorms need both types of bathrooms. Gender-neutral bathrooms are a necessary safe space for students who are gender neutral, she said, adding that they are not necessarily a place where individuals who identify as males and those who identify as females should mix.

Barsky said gendered bathrooms should be maintained so students who haven’t had exposure to living with peers of other genders, especially students from countries where gender roles are deeply ingrained and rigidly defined, are not forced into uncomfortable situations.

The Office of Residential Life put gender-neutral bathroom signs on all bathroom doors during this summer’s renovation of Keeney Quadrangle, The Herald previously reported. ResLife officials said the signs had been put up by accident, and as of last week, all multi-user restroom signs in Keeney had been switched back to indicate gendered bathrooms.

Several units in Keeney have created their own gender-neutral signs in protest, while others have agreed to ignore the changes in signage.

“Changes to residential policies are typically made through student proposals brought forward to the Residential Council. The council reviews these proposals and votes to either support or deny (them),” wrote Natalie Basil, director of residential experience for ResLife, in an email to The Herald.

“Any proposals the council supports would then move forward as recommendations to the Office of Residential Life,” she added.

To date, Basil wrote, no proposals have been brought to the Residential Council regarding gender-neutral bathrooms.



  1. I’m so glad we are able to spend time on important issues. Guys still can pee standing up, right? What is the issue?

  2. I would have DIED if I had started my freshman year off with only gender-neutral bathrooms in Keeney! Brown was enough of a culture shock already. Good grief.

  3. Jason Lee Bartlett says:

    Something I Would Change

    Liberal thinking high schools
    have gender neutral bathrooms, so why not Community College of Rhode
    Island? Essentially, high school is just one step lower than community
    college, so I want to know why the college campus is not thinking one
    step ahead. Progressive thinking is a must, in this ever changing
    environment. If somebody wants change, change is possible. How would you
    feel if somebody told you they did not have a bathroom for your gender
    available? “No women’s room here, sorry.” or “no mens room here, sorry.”
    It is pure discrimination. People who transgress gender norms face
    harassment and violence in gender segregated bathrooms. Everyone
    deserves equal access to public facilities. Being able to safely use a
    public restroom is not a special privilege on Providence campus. Not
    everybody is defined by the stick figures on the door. Just like how
    handicapped people do not internally define themselves by that
    wheelchair stick figure. The people this problem effects is people who
    are transgender, gender-queer, asexual, non-conforming, gender-fluid,
    and even straight, and others. Just plain everyone has the right to use
    restrooms.Whenever I go to the bathroom, I have to flip my shoes around
    in the stall so that if a man comes in, they will not see me peeing
    sitting down. That is a fear I should not have. It is not that hard for
    unisex bathrooms to become the law, Philadelphia did it. In a single
    stall bathroom for this purpose, nothing can happen. Rape will not
    happen. The people who choose to use this bathroom will not have to
    worry about closing the lid on the toilet, or even have somebody watch
    them use the urinal. There should be maps online and available on campus
    showing where these bathrooms are, preferably next to the women and
    mens bathrooms. My rights as a student should be implemented, I deserve
    fair and equal treatment when I poop. The diversity of all students
    needs to be respected and put into action. Gender neutral bathrooms
    encourages community building, social interaction and open discussion.
    It seems so petty that I even have to discuss this, at such a “diverse”
    college. CCRI Providence should be a trans-friendly college, a
    queer-friendly college, and a whatever-people-identify-as-friendly
    college. There is no reason why this should not be successful. Bathrooms
    are free for all, and should be the least of anyones worries during a
    school day.

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