Unisex restrooms: a matter of time

“backing up the flow”

Unisex Restroom SignI get reminded in occasional news stories and the random Quora question that a great many people still think a lot about unisex restrooms. I should note that ALL the bathrooms in my house are unisex, and this has not led to any particular distress.

As for public toilets, there was a specific event from my past that has informed my opinion. A bunch of us were traveling on two or three couple charted buses from New Paltz, NY (about halfway between Albany and NYC) and Washington, DC. It was going to an antiwar rally in 1972 or maybe 1973.

We stopped somewhere in southern New Jersey or perhaps Maryland or Delaware to get something to eat and stop at the restrooms. As is usually the case, the men’s room line was short to non-existent, whereas the women’s room line was getting longer by the minute. We had a finite amount of time before the buses had to leave.

Some women, a handful at first, but eventually at least a couple dozen, decided they should use the line for the men’s room. While I was momentarily startled, I realized it made perfect sense.

Inequity

When, pre-COVID, I went to the Palace Theatre in Albany, Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, or a number of other venues, I’m tempted to encourage the women to storm the men’s room. I have not (yet) but I’m on the verge.

From The Conversation: “Studies show men take an average of 60 seconds in a toilet and women take 90 seconds – that’s 50% longer. If there are the same number of toilets for males and females, this will result in a bottleneck, backing up the flow in and out of the facilities.”

And there are other reasons, such as women actually washing their hands more frequently. “In Hong Kong, building regulations now specify there must be 1.6 female toilets for every one male toilet in public places.” I expect it should be more like two-to-one.

In my church, the large single-person facility is unisex. There’s also a women’s room on the first floor. There are men’s and women’s rooms on the second floor as well. With the changing understanding of gender, this is a good start.

I liked this

Since we still have gender-specific bathrooms, one needs to appreciate the victories for common sense and privacy. Back in August, an Illinois state appellate court ruled Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. violated state anti-bias law by denying a transgender woman employee access to the women’s bathroom. Hobby Lobby v. Sommerville, Ill. App. Ct., 2d Dist., No. 2-19-0362, 8/13/21.

The court said. “The only reason that Meggan Sommerville is barred from using the women’s bathroom is that she is a transgender woman, unlike the other women (at least, as far as Hobby Lobby knows.)”

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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