Transgender bathrooms could potentially be added to RMU campus

Photo+credit%3A+Tori+Flick

Photo credit: Tori Flick

Times are changing all around us and RMU is in the works to accommodate these changes. Equal rights for members of the LGBT+ community are becoming more of a norm, especially in the United States; including being openly accepted in the military, last year’s supreme court decision on marriage equality, the creation of gender inclusive restrooms, and much more.

As an LGBT Activist and Trans Ally, Donovan Powers, RMU sophomore, asserts his view on LGBT+ rights.

“It is against our very DNA as a nation and I know that the Trans Community and their allies will not stop until they see themselves recognized and given their due rights and freedoms: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Powers.

RMU is currently looking into changes for transgender students including bringing transgender bathrooms to campus, allowing students to put their preferred name on their freedom card and when applying to RMU, changing the application where it asks for potential students to check a box for either male or female.

Heather Pinson, Ph.D., department head of Communication and faculty advisor for SAFE, the LGBT+ organization at RMU, explains the reasoning for this discussion at RMU.

“President Howard established a committee to look at the restroom facilities on campus for transgender students and we broadened this to include RMU faculty and staff,” said Pinson. “The reason why is because the federal government has included a statement in the Title IX requirements that includes that a college or university cannot discriminate on people based on their gender. So as a result, we are making changes on our campus to make sure we follow through with this new legislation.”

Formed in March 2016, the committee established by President Howard includes all facets of the RMU community, such as Student Life, Athletics, Resident Life, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, Facilities Management and Admissions. A PR campaign will be established on campus this semester and RMU will continue to offer safe zone training in the future for students, faculty and staff.

Danielle McGuire, RMU junior and secretary of SAFE, expressed her opinion on the benefits of introducing gender inclusive restrooms to RMU.

“I think it’s a good idea to have these bathrooms, so that people who are trans or do not identify as a specific gender can be comfortable and function as the gender that they identify as,” said McGuire.

Transgender students are more likely to have UTI and intestinal difficulties because of the fear of judgment when going to the restroom. As a result, RMU is discussing changing the signage of all single stall restrooms on campus to say ‘All Gender Inclusive’. Also, bathroom stalls on campus will have information posted about the discussion and will include a flag in the colors of blue, white, and pink to represent a boy, gender inclusive, and girl.

David Whittier, RMU junior, has a different perspective on the discussion.

“Transgender individuals have been using the bathroom of their choice for decades and it’s only relevant now because it’s a hot political issue,” said Whittier. “No one cared about it before.”

In retrospect, Pinson asserts, “It’s more than just bathrooms, it is an awareness to the RMU community that gender is not binary. This will bring the real-world situation into RMU’s direct scope… Their is a difference between gender and sex. Sex is what you’re born with and gender is what you perform on a daily basis. I believe in the phrase, ‘sex is between your legs and gender is between your ears.'”

Contact Heather Pinson, department head of communication at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Stay tuned to get an update on what will transform from this discussion at rmusentrymedia.com.