All existing city buildings with single-user restrooms are in the process of being installed with new signage meant to ensure such facilities are available to all genders, city officials announced earlier this week.
The new signs are mandated by State Assembly Bill 1732, which makes all single-user restrooms in California businesses, government buildings and places of public accommodation universally accessible to all genders. The bill, authored by San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, went into effect March 1.
As part of the law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, the required unisex signage needs to consist of a geometric triangle and circle, with the triangle symbol contrasting with the circle symbol. No pictogram, text or Braille is required on the symbol.
“Providing inclusive, safe, gender-neutral restrooms is an important step forward for Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “It is important that all people feel valued and respected as a vital part of our diverse community.”
The LGBTQ Center Of Long Beach Executive Director Porter Gilberg praised the city’s announcement.
“We are pleased to see the city is taking compliance and enforcement seriously by notifying business owners as this will only create a safer and more robust community for everyone,” said Gilberg, who noted that as a gender non-conforming person, he understands firsthand the anxiety of fearing and experiencing harassment in public restrooms.
Gilberg said The Center has been ahead of the law in ensuring all visitors have safe and comfortable restroom access. It has provided all gender restrooms on site for several years now.
Kat McIver and Angie Evans, who will soon open up a brick-and-mortar version of their mobile Wide Eyes Open Palms coffee shop, had their sign ready to install recently—going above and beyond the basic requirements.
“We want to make sure that everyone who walks into the cafe [knows] that this is a space that is for the queer community, that is safe for people of all different kinds of genders and we want to support and embrace that,” McIver said.
Because NO ONE should feel uncomfortable using the restroom. #allgenderlovingestablishment #itisjustarestroom #butyoubetterputthetoiletseatdown #thankyou #lgbtqbusiness #lesbianownedbusiness #womanownedbusiness #feministbusiness #queerbusiness #queerestcoffeeintown #queercoffee #youcanpeenexttome #areyouaboyoragirl
The business owners spent a little extra money to find a sign that specifically said “all gender” on it, which Evans believes is more affirming of different genders as opposed to viewing everyone as gender-neutral. They also made sure to stay away from anything with symbols like pants, dresses, ties or heels.
“My want, being a butch woman, was to really have something that didn’t have that symbol because honestly I identify as a woman but I’m masculine, so I get really confused going to the bathroom,” Evans said. “I don’t identify with a lady when there’s a lady’s shoe, obviously, I wear ties so I get confused.”
Evans said she’s had her share of issues when using public restrooms—whether abroad where she’s had security called on her, or even in Long beach where she’s had young women ask her why she’s in the women’s restroom.
“Going to the bathroom is a living anxiety for butch women [as well as trans folk],” Evans said. “But for butch women who identify as women but don’t look like typical women it’s a constant, every day, public situation for us.”
Single-user restrooms are described as facilities with only one toilet and/or urinal, with a lock on the inside and designated for use by one occupant at a time or for family or assisted use.
While there is no specific timeline requirement to comply with the law, the compliance is verified on a case-by-case basis as applications for new construction and/or rehabilitation projects with single-user restrooms are reviewed by the city, according to Long Beach Development Services spokeswoman Jacqueline Medina.
City officials will regulate the law through an inspection process and on a complaint-driven basis.
For more information on single-user, gender-neutral restrooms in Long Beach, click here.
Above, left photo of sample gender-neutral sign courtesy of City of Long Beach.
Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.
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