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UMass Boston student government votes for gender-neutral bathrooms

Posted by Your Town  May 3, 2013 03:08 PM

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The UMass Boston student government unanimously voted for the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms in new campus buildings, calling the decision an affirmation of the school’s “commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive campus environment.”

In a statement issued last week, the student government said it is imperative for university officials to implement “a gender-neutral restroom in as many of its buildings as reasonably feasible.” The initiative, which was first reported on by The Mass Media, calls for the University of Massachusetts Boston to include at least one gender-neutral restroom per new building on campus.

Student government officials also asked the university to allow students to use whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable in.

“Furthermore, in accordance with the City of Boston’s ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, and the Massachusetts Department of Education’s and the University’s policies of nondiscrimination on the basis of gender identity, the University permits individuals to use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity,” the statement said.

Joey Nguyen, speaker for the UMass Boston student government, who was in strongly in favor of the initiative, said transgender students at the university have experienced harassment while using the school bathrooms.

“The whole goal is to create a community or environment where we strive for progress, we strive for equality,” he said.

Nguyen, a senior, said he understands that building gender-neutral bathrooms in all campus buildings may not be economically feasible, but he thinks asking the university to install these restrooms in the new buildings is a reasonable compromise.

“We can’t just overhaul our old bathrooms, that’s understandable,” Nguyen said.

He said it is crucial for the university to also allow students to use whichever restroom that is in line with their gender identity, and not force them to use a separate room.

“This would be one more step towards progress,” Nguyen said, adding, “because separate isn’t equal.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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