Theory To Praxis: Reconstructing Bathroom Labels at Davidson College

Davidson College is dedicated to “improv[ing] the Davidson campus climate for our transgender, genderqueer, and gender-variant students, faculty, staff, community members, and alumni” (LGBTQIA + resources, Davidson). However, much work still needs to be done to provide basic needs, such as comfortable bathroom stall usage, to the increasingly diverse student body. 

A Gender Inclusive Restroom Map can be found on the school’s website showing the gender-inclusive restroom options for the members and community of Davidson. At first glance, it appears that the school provides a wide range of gender-inclusive restroom options. After analyzing the map, all options are single-occupant restrooms which single out people who do not identify as cisgender. A few single-occupant restrooms on campus are still designated as either “male” or “female”. Shockingly, many places on campus designed to be “safe” places for students like Residence Halls (Akers, Knox, etc) and Student Life Buildings (Wildcat Den, Summit Coffee on Campus, etc) include no options for people in the LGBTQIA community who do not identify themselves as male or female. Academic buildings at Davidson College that do have single-occupant stalls tend to have them on the basement floor level. Students who need bathrooms not labeling them as “male” or “female” have a hard time accessing stalls quickly. 

It is evident that Davidson has a long way to go in creating a community that “welcomes and fosters mutual respect among all campus members” (LGBTQIA + resources, Davidson). I believe the best way to achieve this goal is by reconstructing bathroom labeling in restrooms at Davidson College. However, it is important to note that creating a safe bathroom environment that nurtures everyone’s needs will be a challenge and a long-term plan. To start, Davidson College should redesign the bathroom signs outside the door. Rather than having your typical ‘male’ and ‘female’ doll symbol, there should be a mixture of both figures where half is wearing a skirt and half is wearing pants. The same symbol should be used in all bathroom signs on campus. Changing the picture on a sign seems like a minor change, but is a big step towards creating a positive climate and raising awareness about gender diversity on campus. Along with labeling, the single-use bathroom should be changed from its traditional “unisex bathroom” title to “community bathroom.” Doing this, single-use bathrooms are rooted to meet everyone’s needs and eliminate the pressure of having to identify as ‘one sex’ as the term ‘unisex’ emphasizes. Using the term ‘community’ accounts for everyone on campus and eliminates gender and identity labeling. 

In the long run, Davidson can create a plan to create multi and single-community bathrooms on every floor starting in academic and residential buildings to provide options for everyone at Davidson and make basic tasks, like using the bathroom, accessible to all. Reconstructing the bathroom signs and labels is only the beginning. 

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 LGBTQIA+ resources. Davidson. (n.d.). https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/diversity-and-inclusion/lgbtqia-resources. 

5 thoughts on “Theory To Praxis: Reconstructing Bathroom Labels at Davidson College

  1. Davidson could definitely do a lot better making inclusive bathrooms more widely available. I really like your idea of using the term “community” bathrooms too! I’ve seen restrooms be labeled “all-gender” which I like, but your term takes the idea of gender out of who should be using whatever restroom entirely which is neat.

  2. I loved your proposal and totally agree that the bathrooms could become more inclusive at Davidson! I think your ideas of reconstructing the bathroom labeling would help a ton with this issue and create a space of more acceptance for diverse gender indentities.

  3. This is a super important idea!! I’ve always heard so much about the many inclusive restrooms on campus, but I can never really seem to find any. I love your ideas on simply changing the design of bathroom signs which could be really important to many people, and changing the restrictive “unisex” name to “community” instead. This is a really wonderful proposal that I would love to see implemented at Davidson!

  4. Amazing proposal! I absolutely agree with the fact that gender neutral/inclusive bathrooms should not be hidden or difficult to find. That makes it all seem performative in a way, especially when we have the means to do more. I hope to see this change happen soon!

  5. What a great proposal! I have never seen the gender neutral bathrooms in Chambers but I have found the ones in Wall however, they are tucked away at the end of one of the wings so they are not accessible at all. I really like your idea of naming these bathrooms “community” bathrooms instead of “unisex” because it is so much more inclusive and welcoming to those not identifying as male or female. I hope we can see these changes on campus soon!

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