Troy has begun moving toward converting all single room restrooms on campus into gender neutral or family restrooms according to Herbert Reeves, dean of student services.
“What we have done at this point is that we have taken the single restrooms, and we have turned those into gender neutral or family restrooms where a male or female or person who is handicapped can use those restrooms,” Reeves said.
As of right now, there are four of these restrooms in the Trojan Center (two upstairs by the bookstore and two downstairs near the food court) and at least one in each building that previously had a single stall restroom.
Carleigh Sherman, president of Spectrum, a “safe zone for people of all religions, races, sexual orientations, genders, disabilities, etc,” said that there is a need for gender neutral bathrooms on Troy’s campus.
“I know there are a lot of gender nonconforming, gender non-binary, or transgender students at this school that may not feel safe in gendered bathrooms on campus because they face all kinds of discriminations,” Sherman said. “A lot of them, because they do not feel safe using these bathrooms, will have to wait until they get home.”
Sherman sees the gender neutral bathrooms as a positive thing for Troy’s campus, beneficial to students and is not in opposition to the bathrooms being renovated.
“It can also be for those with disabilities because I know some that have disabilities that make it more difficult to use public restrooms,” she said. “I don’t see the bathrooms being a problem for anyone.
“I feel that all the criticisms come from either misunderstanding of other people or just a disagreement with other people’s lifestyles.”
Julia Owens, a sophomore political science major from Trinity, said that controversy over the topic is unneeded.
“What bathroom an individual uses never showed up as a problem until the last few years,” Owens said. “Those of the LGBT+ community began to stand up for themselves, which caused controversy.
“Gender is imposed on children at a young age to show that the male sex is the dominant one so when the debate came up that just maybe they wouldn’t have a bathroom specifically catered to them, they felt threatened.”
The Baptist Campus Ministries was contacted for a response but was unavailable for comment.
Universities within the state such as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of North Alabama and University of South Alabama have begun either building or converting single room restrooms to gender neutral or allowing their students to use whichever gendered restrooms they identify with.
According to Reeves, Troy has already adhered to the federal government mandate ordering public universities to move towards building gender neutral restrooms.
“The mandate came down from the federal government, and I know it’s still up in the air and there are states that have filed lawsuits to keep from having gender neutral bathrooms. We went ahead and identified those restrooms that could easily be transformed into either or,” Reeves said.
The Obama administration announced on May 13 that public school districts nationwide must adhere to a federal law requiring transgender students access to bathrooms.
According to CNN.com, a joint letter from the Departments of Education and Justice went to schools with guidelines to ensure that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment,” the Obama administration said.
In a press released on May 25, “Attorney General Luther Strange announced that Alabama has joined an 11-state legal challenge to the Obama administration’s recent order that schools must allow students access to restrooms and locker rooms of their gender ‘identity’ rather than their sex, or lose federal funding.”
According to Reeves, as new buildings are renovated or built, the university plans on building new restrooms. They are to be of use to anyone of any gender, age, or disability to use.