California’s All Gender Restroom Bill

California Assembly Bill 1372

California legislator’s passed a new assembly bill that requires single occupancy bathrooms to be designated as All Gender facilities. This bill will apply to businesses, government facilities and other places of public accommodation. Starting on March 1st, 2017 single-user restrooms must be universally accessible to all genders in California businesses and public buildings. It is important to note that this bill only applies to single user restrooms which are defined as ‘a toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user’. This means that traditional gender-specific ‘male’ and ‘female’ restrooms are still allowed for multiple-occupant facilities.

Support for All Gender Restroom Bill

California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is one of the main supporters of AB 1372. He argues that it not only provides much needed support for transgender people but also makes it easier for families or parents to tend to their children in public facilities. Ting addressed the CA Assembly Floor stating that restroom facilities should be “really be equal for everybody”. Furthermore, besides Assemblyman Ting, groups such as California NOW, Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center support the bill as well. Proponents of AB 1372 assert that segregated restrooms unfairly impact certain groups such as the LBGTQ community and that universally accessible, all gender restrooms are essential for safety, fairness and convenience.

Controversy surrounding gender issues and restroom access

Although widespread support enabled the passage of this AB 1372, there is a fair amount of controversy with All Gender restrooms in California. Some opponents of the bill claim that its wording is not very specific in its definitions. For instance, the wording “places of public accommodation” is a broad term and the bill does not specifically address who is included and who is exempt. On a national level, states like Kansas, Texas and North Carolina are facing controversies over gender politics and restroom access. A North Carolina law that requires individuals to use restrooms based on their biological sex rather than gender identity has incited widespread outrage throughout the United States. The ADA regulations for Gender Neutral restrooms continue to grow and expand on the original ideas established by the bill. The ever-growing list of terminology and language used to define the gender spectrum has brought to the forefront the conversation of identity and how that applies to the use of public spaces.