The Lakeland Mirror

Bathroom questions spark policy changes at LC

Gender+neutral+bathrooms+are+located+in+Brotz%2C+Grosshuesch+and+Krueger.
Gender neutral bathrooms are located in Brotz, Grosshuesch and Krueger.

Gender neutral bathrooms are located in Brotz, Grosshuesch and Krueger.

Breanna Rae Weber

Breanna Rae Weber

Gender neutral bathrooms are located in Brotz, Grosshuesch and Krueger.

Karalee Manis, Staff Reporter

Just as the world is ever-changing, so too is policy—though it may not always be able to keep up as fast as changes are occurring.

This hurdle has become more present on campus as policy related to gender issues, restrooms and housing has been questioned.

According to Jim Bajczyk, director of residence life, there are no policies and/or restrictions for people who identify themselves as transgender. However, the Student Handbook does not state anything referencing gender identity or expression in relation to discrimination, harassment or safety and security

“My biggest concern with Lakeland and their facilities is that they have a lack of policy regarding students who are something other than identifying as male or female,” said Alister Kohls, junior sociology major.

The current housing contract terms and conditions state that “individuals may not use the restrooms intended for the use of the opposite gender.” After talking to Kohls, Lakeland has made the move to change the policy to address this issue.

The policy will be amended in the fall semester to state, “restrooms use is intended for those individuals who identify as the gender of the designated restroom.”

In order to update or offer restrooms as gender neutral, buildings and plumbing would need to be updated.

“We would love to do that. All we need is the money,” said Carole Robertson, vice president and chief financial officer.

In Kohls’ opinion, restrooms “shouldn’t be gender segregated” anyway, as they only need stalls and sinks to define them as a restroom and serve their purpose.

On campus right now are three gender neutral bathrooms. They can be located in Brotz, Grosshuesch and Krueger Hall.

Additionally, the 2015-2016 housing contract terms and conditions have been changed to include the term ‘gender identity.’

“We need to address the comfort level of all our students,” said Bajczyk. “It’s going to be an educational process for a lot of our students as well, and we need to anticipate that.”

According to campuspride.org, “more than 90 percent of two and four year institutions in the United States remain completely inaccessible and inhospitable to transgender students.”

“We do recognize it’s happening in high schools now, where they’re doing the same type of policies, and so it would be incumbent upon us to do the same,” said Bajczyk. “And (we need to) be proactive rather than reactive.”

“We (also) have to make sure that people from other areas, not only domestically but internationally, understand what that means,” said Robertson when referring to possible language or culture barriers concerning policy.

“We’re an inclusive campus and we’re going to fight to remain an inclusive campus; and if there’s biased abuse towards anybody, we’re going to combat (that),” said Bajczyk.

 

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Bathroom questions spark policy changes at LC