KPU designates new gender-inclusive washrooms

More choices for washrooms helps students feel more comfortable

The new gender-inclusive washrooms are now up and running at KPU. Students, staff, and faculty members all have access to them, regardless of which campus they are at.

Nine different men’s and women’s washrooms, which were identified to be in high-traffic locations, have been converted. Two of these nine are multiple stall facilities. The other seven facilities are single stall.

Compared to single gender washrooms, some physical modifications have been made. These include full wheelchair accessibility, handles, and modified counter and sink heights. Some of them have change tables for infants.

These washrooms are open for use of any student, staff, or faculty member regardless of gender.

“Gender-inclusive washrooms are helping everyone re-conceive our notions of a regular public washroom,” says Diane Naugler, associate dean of the faculty of arts and the director of PDEC – the President’s Diversity and Equity Committee.“Many retail and commercial spaces, like Starbucks for example, already offer customers accessible gender-inclusive washrooms.”

The need for these new faculties was identified by the student representation of PDEC as well as Pride Kwantlen.

“It was the student members of PDEC who said we need to do more to support transgender and gender nonconforming students at KPU, and the washrooms are one part of that support,” says Naugler.

When it comes to gender identity, not everyone identifies themselves as male or female, regardless of what sex they were born as. As such, washrooms identified as only one gender or the other can be problematic. A transgender or gender non-binary student may not feel comfortable using a facility only catering to one gender.

In addition, there are challenges that some cis-gendered students may have with single-gendered washrooms.

“All are wheelchair accessible, and many of them have been outfitted with change tables so that caregivers of any gender could attend to the needs of their infant,” says Naugler. “Sometimes, men who have small children in their company find that men only washrooms aren’t set up for those kinds of needs, and it’s awkward to go into a woman’s washroom.”

Kim McMartin, representative of students with disabilities and a representative of Pride Kwantlen, is very happy with the implementation of gender-inclusive washrooms. To her, it’s a very important step for the positive inclusion of all students at Kwantlen, no matter their needs or identity.

“It’s a very nice progression,” she says.“It’s a way to encourage someone that they are important and you are supported.”

KPU President Alan Davis commented on the gender-inclusive washrooms in a news release.

“KPU has a long history of being a proudly open-access institution, and this is an extension of that philosophy, that commitment and that pledge,” said KPU president Alan Davis in a release.

Gender-inclusive washrooms give all students more options when it comes to being comfortable with their washroom needs. Naugler says that it’s just as important to have the single gender washrooms as well as the gender-inclusive ones, as not everyone will be comfortable using them. It’s not about converting all the washrooms to gender inclusive ones, but rather, it’s about giving more choice.

Locations of Gender-Inclusive Washrooms

The gender-inclusive washrooms can be identified by the unique sign on the door.

On Surrey campus: Arbutus 1814, Main 1894, Cedar 1256 and 1258.

On Richmond campus: Three, next to meeting room 1420.

On Langley campus: 1082 near Student Enrollment Services.

On Cloverdale campus: Room 1606 near the cafeteria.

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