Equality California announced Friday that it is sponsoring legislation, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), that would establish the nation’s most progressive restroom access law. AB 1732, the Equal Restroom Access Act, would require single-occupancy restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and public spaces to be identified as “all gender.”
“Restrooms are a necessity of life. Access to them influences our ability to participate in public life,” said Ting. “Signs restricting single-use restroom access by gender create problems of convenience, fairness, and safety. They defy common sense, which is why many of us ignore them. ‘All gender’ signs will end these problems and ensure everyone’s rights are protected.”
“Having access to a restroom without restrictions based on one’s gender identity simply makes sense,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), a principal co-author of the bill. “All gender restrooms will enhance dignity and safety for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in their daily lives.”
Sponsored by Equality California and supported by the Transgender Law Center, California NOW and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, AB 1732 would align state law with similar restroom access laws emerging in the cities of Oakland, Denver, Boston, and Philadelphia.
“This bill will greatly enhance the safety of and increase options for transgender people, who are often harassed or threatened in public, multi-stall restrooms, but the benefits would truly extend to virtually everyone,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “Everyone at one point or another will benefit from this bill – including nursing mothers, parents with an opposite-sex child, the elderly and people with medical conditions with an opposite-sex caregiver. And this bill will not impose any real costs on businesses or governments – it merely requires that single use restrooms be made available to everyone. The cost quite literally is no more than a new plastic sign.”
“All Californians should have the same freedom to participate in public life, go about their day, and use the bathroom when they need it,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center. “By making single-user restrooms accessible to all genders, this law will make life easier for everyone and reduce the harassment regularly experienced by transgender people and others who don’t match people’s stereotypes of what it looks like to be a man or a woman.”
“When nature calls, women frequently have to wait,” said Jerilyn Stapleton, President of California NOW. “We shouldn’t have to wait or postpone having our needs fairly met in public. Everyone should experience equal waiting time. We have universal bathroom access at home and on airplanes so why not require it in public buildings?”
“Hospitality is all about accommodation and making people feel comfortable and welcome,” said Samantha Higgins, Policy and Community Manager of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “This legislation just makes sense.”
Legislation pending in the New York State Legislature would require a “gender neutral” designation for all single-use bathrooms in state owned or operated buildings. Vermont’s state legislature has legislation pending to require newly constructed or renovated state buildings to include “gender neutral” restrooms. In contrast, a pending bill in Indiana would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly enter a single-use restroom of the opposite sex.