Beyond the bathroom wars: Increasing gender-free restroom access in libraries

Selene Colburn

Abstract

In May 2016, protesters affiliated with the student organization Justice for Queer and Trans Students occupied the University of Vermont’s (UVM) Dean of Libraries’ office to demand that the David W. Howe Memorial Library (then known as the Bailey/Howe Library) immediately convert select gender-segregated restrooms—meaning those labeled for use for only men or only women—to gender-free restrooms to accommodate the needs of trans and gender non-conforming students during spring finals week. The protest followed the delivery of a petition with more than 1,000 signatures seeking change, as well as ongoing conversations between the libraries and student activists. Student organizer Lindsey “Z.” McCarron told The Vermont Cynic, “This is an immediate and real need that is affecting people’s health and safety every day.”

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