Will the Gender-Neutral Bathroom Bill Affect Commercial Restroom Design?


With the conversation about LGBTQ rights elevating in volume across the globe, one proposed piece of legislation has building managers particularly concerned: the gender-neutral bathroom bill.

However, they’re not necessarily worried about who’s using which bathroom, but rather what the bill will mean for commercial restroom design and how it could impact the facility’s budget.

What’s the Gender-Neutral Bathroom Bill?

So far, no such gender-neutral bathroom bill has been passed into law in the US, but some businesses have taken it upon themselves to update their restroom policies. Global retailer Target, for example, announced that transgender employees and customers were free to use any bathroom they wanted depending on the gender they identify with. However, following public protests and media controversy, the Minnesota-based company is now dedicating $20 million to ensure gender-neutral bathrooms in all 1,800 stores.

Several gender-neutral bathroom bills have been designed in states such as New York and California, but all have fallen apart. Many of the proposed bills had a similar policy. They called for all single-occupant bathrooms should be labeled as gender neutral.

Meanwhile, other bills requiring people to use bathrooms that matched the gender to which they were assigned at birth have also fallen through, except for the controversial Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act that passed in North Carolina earlier this year. This bill prevents transgender people who haven’t undergone sex reassignment surgery and updated their birth certificate from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.


What Building Managers and Designers Need to Know

Should a gender-neutral bathroom bill for single-occupant bathrooms be passed into law, many building managers might find it easier to be compliant than they originally may have thought. For example, in a facility that only has single-occupant restrooms, all that may be needed is to remove the gender signs from the entrance and replace them with a gender-neutral sign or possibly no sign at all. In fact, there are many single-occupant bathrooms across the country that are already compliant in this way.

However, buildings that have multiple-occupant bathrooms may face a different challenge if these types of facilities are included in the bill. As was the case when Target announced its LGBTQ-friendly bathroom policy, public unrest could cause businesses to install new, gender-neutral bathrooms.

What Would It Mean for Commercial Restroom Design?

Since no gender-neutral bathroom bill has been successfully passed into law, it’s difficult to calculate exactly how it would affect commercial restroom design. However, there are many ways that designers and building architects may decide to handle the challenge, depending on what the legislation mandates.

For example, designers might factor a third, gender-neutral bathroom into their building designs. Another possible alternative, although probably less likely, is the completely coed bathroom, which features private, lockable stalls for all occupants.

It’s still unclear what, if any, impact a gender-neutral bathroom bill would have on commercial restroom design. However, current events have proven that the gender-neutral bathroom is something worth considering as architects and designers plan for new facilities.