Certain public bathrooms in Philadelphia would have to be gender-neutral under a bill introduced in Philadelphia’s city council on Thursday.
The measure — which applies only to bathrooms with a single occupant, not bathrooms with multiple stalls — was hailed by activists in the gay, lesbian and transgender communities who see it as a measure aimed at inclusion for people. Activists say many transgender people associate public restrooms with incredible stress because people may challenge their right to use one bathroom or another.
Newly built city-owned buildings must have a gender-neutral option as part of a 2013 bill that also extended same sex benefits to city employees.
Gender-neutrality in public restrooms is an ongoing trend. Many colleges feature co-ed restrooms, and some — like Oberlin — have co-ed showers.
Likewise, many bars go beyond what is envisioned under the bill, which is sponsored by Councilman Mark Squilla. Some feature private stall with common washing areas. At The Barn, on 49th and Baltimore avenues in West Philadelphia, new owners simply didn’t assign genders to the two multi-stall bathrooms.
Two nightspots on a 2014 rundown of the “best make out” bars in Philadelphia made the list because of the inclusive nature of their water closets.
For restaurants that have gender-neutral bathrooms, it’s a topic that appears occasionally on Yelp reviews.
"The bathrooms weirded me out a bit,” reads one review of Barclay’s Prime. "Maybe it's just a European style that I'm not accustomed to, but a single bathroom with shared sinks and gender-labeled stalls just felt...odd. I dunno. I didn't like it, and I would imagine women would like it less.”
On the other hand, some not only don't seem to mind, they like it.
“They have gender neutral bathrooms with door-to-ceiling stall doors,” wrote one reviewer of City Tap House on Logan Square. “I don’t know their reasoning, but this was great to see as restrooms don’t need to be gendered.”