GIRT

Gender-Inclusive Restroom Task Force Report

Student Activism Spurs Action Around Restroom Access

Student activism is a proud tradition at the University of Vermont. From the formation of the Gay Student Union in 1974 to the creation of the Translating Identity Conference in 2002, and the addition of "gender identity and expression" to the non­discrimination policy, UVM students have played an invaluable role in LGBTQ education and advocacy on campus. The historical line continues with Justice for Queer and Trans Students (QTS), a newly­organized student group directed at “expanding access, safety, and justice for queer and trans students on campus.” Justice for QTS formed out of an HB2 (North Carolina's bathroom law) solidarity rally held in response to what they felt was a national climate characterized by backlash against young queer and transgender people. The founder of Justice for QTS, Lindsey McCarron, directed the bulk of their efforts towards an issue affecting queer and trans students ­locally and nationally ­ restroom access. Since 2003, all­gender restroom access at UVM has substantially expanded. However, LGBTQA people have expressed the concern that inadequate restroom access in main campus areas, including the Bailey Howe Library, continues to restrict queer and transgender students’ intellectual and social engagement. Representatives from Justice for QTS met with campus leaders to discuss library restroom access over a series of months, but felt they had seen little progress. Justice for QTS then launched a grassroots campaign to secure adequate all­gender restroom access in the Bailey Howe Library, and UVM's athletic complex by the end of the Spring semester of 2016. Justice for QTS organized a variety of educational presentations and protests, that eventually led to a week­long occupation of the Office of the Dean of Library & Information Services. A series of discussions between Justice for QTS and members of the UVM administration, including President Sullivan, led to President Sullivan charging a task force to meet through the summer to student the issues Justice for QTS raised and to follow the work underway at Bailey­Howe library. The taskforce, co­led by Director of the UVM LGBTQA Center Dot Brauer, joined actors from across the University to discuss future directions for inclusive restroom access. In August, GIRT presented a detailed set of recommendations for expanding all­gender restroom access on campus to President Sullivan. By the start of the semester several accessible all­gender restrooms had been created in Bailey­Howe Library and the athletic complex. With the momentum of their recent victories behind them, Justice for QTS members plan to continue advocating for queer and transgender students to make UVM an even safer and more inclusive space for LGBTQA people to study, live, work, and thrive. In the words of Dot Brauer, “What is possible has moved. We have done a lot, but we can do more.” (Excerpt taken from PAN Fall 2016 ed.)

UVM's Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms in the News