First, check with Michael Pierce (Michael.Pierce@facilities.unc.edu) in Facilities. He will be able to let you know whether the signs can be changed.
(There are some cases in which it wouldn’t be allowed, for instance, if doing so would bring the number of gender-specific restrooms in the building below the minimum for its occupancy according to state building code.)
If the change is allowed, the department chair (or whoever is considered in charge of that space in the building) will need to order a new sign from the sign shop. To report concerns related to campus signage or request new signage, please call 919-962-3762 or submit a work request.
If the department head decides to do this, it may help for them to post or email a memo letting faculty/staff know about the change. We recommend including some information about why that change has been made.
Imagine you have to use the restroom but you are in a building that does not have a restroom labeled with your gender. Imagine that you have to fear embarrassment or ridicule whenever you enter a public restroom. You have just imagined the reality that a small, yet increasingly vocal group of people on campus faces every day (Source: BG News, November 14, 2005)
Many people are negatively affected by segregating restrooms by sex.
- Transgender, nonbinary, and people who don’t conform to societal expectation about gender expression/presentation often get harassed, beaten, and/or arrested in both women’s and men’s restrooms.
- Parents/guardians with young children of the opposite sex are uncomfortable taking the child into the “wrong restroom” but feel it is unsafe to let them go into the “right restroom” unsupervised.
- People who are elderly or who have disabilities whose personal assistants or caregivers help them use the restroom have to negotiate which restroom is the “right” one to use.
Providing restrooms that aren’t segregated by gender allows people to use the restroom without being challenged or harassed for being in “the wrong restroom.”
Restrooms that accommodate all people regardless of their biological sex or gender identity can be called:
- gender inclusive restrooms
- gender nonspecific restrooms
- family restroom
UNC Department of Facilities Services 2014 Design Guidelines, Section IV.D. states:
Equal Access Toilet Rooms
In new buildings and major building renovations that include toilet rooms at least one Equal Access Toilet Room shall be provided. This shall be a single use toilet room with a lockable door that includes the following features:
- Compliant with the current ADAAG and NCBC for a single accessible toilet room
- Signage shall read “Toilet Room” or “Unisex Toilet Room”
Provide diaper changing and lactation areas within these restrooms in buildings such as libraries, museums, performing arts buildings and other location where they are most likely to be in demand. Verify with the Facilities Planning Project Manager if this is to be included in the project.