Seattle mayor proposes all-gender single-occupant public bathrooms

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 24, 2015 8:52 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Single-occupant public bathrooms in Seattle would be designated for all-gender use, not just for men and women, under legislation proposed by Mayor Ed Murray on Wednesday.

While existing laws protect a person's right to use a restroom matching their gender, bathrooms are usually assigned for male and female use, excluding transgender and gender non-conforming people, Murray said in a statement.

"The transgender community deserves the dignity and respect that most people take for granted," Murray said. The legislation would affect bathrooms in such public places as restaurants, parks, stores, and City Hall, though it would only affect bathrooms that are designed for use by one person at a time.

The move follows similar actions taken in Portland, Oregon's Multnomah County and in Philadelphia, which has passed legislation mandating all-gender restrooms in city or county-controlled buildings, Murray's office said.

The District of Columbia and California's West Hollywood have passed laws requiring gender-neutral signage on all single-occupant restrooms in public places, it said.

The legislation must be approved by the city council. It would amend Seattle's Municipal Code to remove single-occupant restroom restrictions to a specific sex or gender identity, ensuring signs for all genders, rather than "men" or "women."

It was unclear when the council would take up the matter.

All-gender bathrooms can be single-occupant or multi-stall and benefit a variety of people. They include people who require the assistance of a differently gendered caregiver, parents with differently gendered children, and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, Murray's office said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Eric Walsh)