Illinois flushes out bathroom discrimination

By Juniper Oxford, Staff Reporter

Update 2/1/2020: The Daily Egyptian interviewed Scott Weber from Plant Service Operations not Scott Keith.

All single occupant restrooms in Illinois must now be marked as gender neutral.

The Equitable Restrooms Act, Senate Bill 556 was passed by Gov. JB Pritzker and came into effect Jan. 1.

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Erin Denae Douglas

This act requires that “Every single-occupancy restroom in a place of public accommodation or public building shall be identified as all-gender and designated for use by no more than one person at a time or for family or assisted use.” 

It specifies that the signage should indicate that the restroom is marked as a restroom, that it is single-occupancy, and that it “does not indicate any specific gender.” 

Vernon Cooper, SIU’s LGBTQ Resource Coordinator, said Illinois passed what was already supported by the International Plumbing Code, which was updated in 2018 to include specific signage requirements. 

“SIU has recently passed, or agreed upon, standard signage that, I believe, it says ‘restroom’ and has the accessibility symbol and has signage to indicate that it’s accessible by all genders,” Cooper said. 

The process for making the signage standard to law on campus is underway, but not yet completed. Cooper said all single-occupancy restrooms on campus are currently for any gender, despite any outdated signage that says otherwise. 

“Once we became aware of the legislation last fall, or I guess when it passed last spring or last summer,” Scott Weber, Supt. of Building Maintenance, said. “It was effective Jan. 1, 2020. Last year, last fall, we started doing a survey of campus facilities to determine how many restrooms fell into the definition of the new legislation.” 

Weber said a total of 84 were found across campus that required updated signage in order to comply with the new Illinois law. 

The signage is currently on order and, when it comes in, will be installed on those restrooms. 

“It looks as if it is supposed to happen as soon as possible. We expect to have it completed in the next month or two,” Weber said. “The legislation is very specific and the legislation specifically says that the signage should be replaced with text either noting either ‘Restroom’ or ‘All Gender Restroom’” 

The Equitable Restrooms Act is just one of the few laws that affect the LGBTQ Community that went into law on Jan. 1 and Cooper said progress should not stop there, nor should it ever. 

“You should never be satisfied that you have done enough,” Cooper said. “You should continue to look for and double check that the things you set up five years ago are still the best option.” 

Refuge is an app available on the Apple app store that shows nearby gender neutral, single-occupancy restrooms using your location and their map. For SIU students who feel most comfortable using a gender neutral, single-occupancy restroom, Refuge will be able to assist. 

See more: Construction of all gender inclusive bathrooms echo student requests

Reporter Juniper Oxford can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JuniperOxford.

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