San Francisco Moves to Mandate City Bathrooms as Gender Neutral

Surprisingly, San Francisco is behind the curve on gender neutral bathrooms. But all that is about to change. "On Monday, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos took the first substantive steps toward changing that when he announced plans to introduce a bill that would make many city bathrooms gender-neutral."

The proposed measure would mandate that all single-occupancy bathrooms would be relabeled for all genders.

The bill would also go beyond similar laws in other cities by putting in place sweeping enforcement mechanisms, including a complaint process handled by the Human Rights Commission, an LGBT rights organization, and adding these facilities as a standard checklist item for building inspections.

If the measure passes, San Francisco would join Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., West Hollywood, Calif. and Austin, Texas, as cities that have gender neutral bathrooms. Even the White House has gender neutral bathrooms.

Campos developed the new law along with the Transgender Center. “Many people right now are impacted negatively by the gender-specific restroom,” he says. For example, he said a mother who wants to accompany her son to the bathroom. But the measure is mainly about LGBT.

“Having gender-specific restrooms can create unnecessary risks that lead to transgender or gender non-conforming folks to be harassed,” says Sasha Buchert, a staff attorney at the Transgender Law Center. “Those aren’t in a vacuum either. Those types of interactions can have long-term health consequences.”

“The bottom line,” Campos says, “is this: going to the bathroom is such a basic necessity that nowhere should anyone have a difficult time or be in danger because of that.”