Connecticut will seek solution in Yale gender-neutral bathroom suit

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 27, 2017 10:04 AM

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Connecticut official said on Tuesday the state would reconsider policies that can limit gender-neutral bathrooms in public buildings following a lawsuit by Yale University, the latest skirmish in the broader U.S. fight about gender identity.

The Ivy League school said in the lawsuit it wants to designate all single-occupant restrooms at its law school as gender neutral, but the plan runs afoul of the state building code, which does not count gender-neutral bathrooms when it assesses whether a public building has enough toilets.

A spokeswoman for Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, said on Tuesday his administration would seek to grant Yale's request, which was made in a lawsuit filed on Friday in Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven.

Yale sued after receiving complaints from law school students, seeking a waiver from requirements that single-user restrooms have an assigned gender label to count toward state requirements.

"We stand firmly with Yale in their effort to create a more welcoming campus," Malloy spokeswoman Meg Green said in an email. "This has been a priority for Governor Malloy's administration and, now that this issue has been brought to our attention, we are prepared to work with Yale toward a solution."

Restrooms have become a flashpoint in the fight over transgender rights, after North Carolina passed a law last year requiring people to use public restrooms that corresponded with their birth gender. The measure was partially repealed in March after the state lost hundreds of millions of dollars from economic boycotts.

Texas lawmakers are expected to consider a similar measure next month. Proponents of the bathroom bills say they aim to protect individual privacy. That is not a factor in the Yale case, which focuses on single-occupant restrooms.

"The proposed shift in designation to gender neutral ... would facilitate quick access to a bathroom within the building for persons of all gender identities," the 315-year-old university wrote in the lawsuit.

The state code would require Yale to build more bathrooms to be in compliance with rules about the number of restrooms for men and women. The school said it would be impractical and unnecessary in its century-old law school building.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott)