This story was written by Nancy Doolittle and was originally published in The Cornell Chronicle. 

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ITHACA, N.Y. — Single-occupancy gender-specific restrooms on campus will be converted to all-gender restrooms, and all members of the Cornell community and campus visitors will have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The move results from a resolution passed by the University Assembly (UA) Dec. 1 and supported by President Elizabeth Garrett in January.

Additionally, the president approved the resolution’s request for consistent signage for restroom, locker and shower space.

“The resolution is a welcome contribution to our ongoing efforts to provide a campus environment that is free of discrimination based on gender identity,” Garrett wrote in her response to the UA Jan. 8. “The outcomes of the resolution will help further strengthen inclusion on campus to the benefit of the greater Cornell community and the public at large.”

Garrett wrote that the Division of Infrastructure Properties and Planning (IPP) will convert single-occupancy gender-specific restrooms to all-gender restrooms with standardized signage that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 by the beginning of the fall 2016 semester.

An online map indicating existing inclusive restroom locations will be available online by the middle of March, with new ones added to the map as they become available.

In response to the resolution, IPP already has revised the university’s design and construction standards to include recommendations for ADA-consistent signage for all universal facilities, locker rooms and showers.

Universal facilities are meant to be accessed and used by as many people as reasonably possible, regardless of gender or ability.

Garrett has asked her leadership team to explore whether to issue a formal policy or a statement that clarifies that students, employees and campus visitors can use all restrooms or facilities on campus that correspond to their gender identity, without being asked to use gender-neutral restroom facilities or show proof of transition.

The university already provides equal access for all employees and applicants regardless of gender identity or expression, consistent with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2015 ruling in Lusardi v. McHugh, and Executive Order 13672, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We are pleased that President Garrett and her leadership team have taken this important step in ensuring that all members of the Cornell community – and our visitors – feel welcomed on campus,” said Brian Patchcoski, associate dean of students and director of the LGBT Resource Center.

Said Ulysses Smith, lead diversity and inclusion strategist in the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity and sponsor of the resolution, “President Garrett’s prompt response to this resolution, detailing specific actions that are now already underway, shows her commitment to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life, and a particular commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Featured photo courtesy of Flickr. 

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.