The UCD LGBTQ+ Society has launched an online petition for gender-neutral bathrooms to be fitted in UCD buildings. The petition, which was initiated on petitions.ie, was created in the interest of safety and well-being of all UCD students and staff using the toilet facilities on campus, according to UCD LGBTQ+.
For some students, choosing a bathroom can be a stressful and potentially dangerous experience. Tim Keegan, LGBTQ+ Welfare Officer, said that having a gender-neutral bathroom would provide them with “a great deal of peace of mind” as going to the bathroom as a trans person can be an ordeal. They may face harassment as well as verbal, psychological and even physical abuse, over whether or not they are in the “right” bathroom. As a result of this, going to the bathroom throughout the college day can be a source of unnecessary anxiety and stress. Keegan believes that “by adding even one gender-neutral bathroom per building some of this tension can be alleviated.”
A similar proposal was made last year to Campus Services, but it was “brushed off” by both students and staff, according to Louise Keogh, LGBTQ+ Auditor. She said they received a slightly more sympathetic response this year, from the HR department for staff, however they alone do not have the power to implement it as a policy. Therefore, the society are hoping to work alongside the staff network and UCDSU in order to get their voices heard on the issue.
UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) and UCD LGBTQ+ have traditionally enjoyed a good relationship, with the two organisations working together throughout the first semester in registering students to vote in the upcoming marriage equality referendum. UCDSU is in favour of the policy and has noted in previous council meetings that “gender composes more than binary male and binary female” and as a result, those who do not identify as either binary male or binary female have no toilet facilities on campus. From this, the Council has mandated that “the Gender Equality Coordinator, LGBT Coordinator and Welfare Equality Officer to work together to lobby the university to provide at least one gender-neutral bathroom on campus for students that need it.” Conor Rock, UCDSU Arts Convenor, believes that the Newman Joyce Project, which consists of the revamp of the Newman building and the connecting bridge to the James Joyce library, provides a great opportunity to incorporate gender-neutral bathrooms into the building.
The Gender-Neutral Bathrooms campaign will be run this semester, in conjunction with the society’s YES Equality campaign for the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum, which is expected to be held in May of this year.