Portland Converts 600 Bathrooms to Gender-Neutral
By Casey Parks
Portland commissioners will designate 600 city bathrooms as "all-user" on Friday. They will replace "male" and "female" signs on single-occupancy restrooms with signs that show a toilet.
The new signs show "what's behind the door," city officials said, "not who should be using the facility."
Commissioner Nick Fish first proposed the change in December 2015 after people from across Portland asked for it, he said. The new signs will make the restrooms accessible to parents with young children, people with personal attendants and transgender people.
"Fundamentally, we're making the city of Portland a more welcoming place," Fish said. "From a cross section of Portland we heard that it made no sense to maintain arbitrary distinctions on all-user restrooms."
The City manages about 850 restrooms. Almost 600 are single-user facilities, with roughly half in park facilities spread across the city.
Some Portlanders, especially transgender people, felt policed outside bathrooms with gendered signs, said Anna Preble of PHLUSH, one of several advocacy groups that worked with Fish to draft the policy.
"When you bar people from using a restroom, they're going to be effectively barred from public life and not welcome in the city of Portland," Preble said. "It's really about human rights. Everyone should be able to have full access to restroom facilities. This fits the range of identities we have in society."
Multnomah County and Portland Public Schools have changed their single-stall facilities to gender-neutral in recent years.
"It's a common sense change," Fish said. "I just wish we had done it sooner."
Fish and Commissioner Amanda Fritz will unveil the new signs in Friday at 11 a.m. in Dawson Park, North Stanton Street and North Williams Avenue.
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)