While there’s been little movement for Cleveland’s non-discrimination restroom ordinance, private organizations like the Greater Cleveland Aquarium are taking a stand with their own “all gender” restroom facilities.
Cleveland Ordinance 1446-13 would give transgender and gender non-conforming individuals the right to use the restroom and/or locker room that most closely identifies with their gender identity.
It was proposed back in 2013 and received just one hearing in November of 2014. Since then the legislation has been stalled at the committee level.
Meanwhile, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium told newsnet5.com that the decision to transform a male bathroom into an “all gender” restroom was prompted by the Gay Games in 2014.
“One of the things that was suggested was to have a restroom that was available for anyone to use and to have the privacy of a lock,” General Manager Tami Brown said.
She said the aquarium had long been considering a “family bathroom” option and that the facility has been met with little reaction from guests.
“I think we’ve run into a little confusion when we changed the name on the board several times,” she told newsnet5.com. “But we’re trying to get the point across that really anyone is welcome to use this restroom.”
Brown acknowledged that not everyone might feel comfortable using a restroom with other sexes.
One woman told newsnet5.com that she walked in on a man using a urinal. But Brown said that should not happen.
“There is a lock on the door and the sign actually says ‘please lock the door for privacy’ so we hope that our guests do follow that,” Brown explained.
Jacob Nash, a man who was identified as a woman at birth, said all gender facilities like the one in the aquarium are a step in the right direction.
Nash acknowledged that most all gender restrooms have stalls only, but in this case education is key to smoothing over any confusion.
“That’s why the lock on the door is important,” Nash said. “So that individuals know that if you’re at a urinal there could be an opportunity for someone to walk in on you while you are going to the restroom.”
Nash is Co-Chair of Cleveland is Ready, the group pushing for the passage of Cleveland Ordinance 1446-13.
While Clevelanders wait for a vote from the City Council, Nash hopes that more businesses will consider transitioning to all gender facilities.
“Gender neutral and all gender restrooms are perfect for that for those individuals that feel like they want a little more privacy,” Nash said.
Case Western University is also equipped with all gender restrooms in 14 different buildings on campus.
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