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All-gender washrooms coming to U of T Mississauga

All-gender washrooms will be coming to the Mississauga campus this fall.

While there are many single-use washrooms across the university’s three campuses that serve all genders, Mississauga's all-gender facilities are the first multi-stalled, public facilities available at U of T.

“By expanding the washroom options on campus, we are able to offer conveniently located, accessible and comfortable facilities for a greater number of people,” says Nic Weststrate, U of T Mississauga's interim equity & diversity officer. “We heard from UTM community members – staff, faculty and students – who were concerned about the lack of options on campus for a basic everyday human function. UTM is an inclusive campus, and part of inclusivity includes ensuring space is available where people feel comfortable and the physical structure reflects their identity.”

In 2015, all three campuses took part in the Washoom Inclusivity Project, a survey of public use facilities across the university. Data collected helped to map campus facilities that fit a variety of individual needs, including foot-washing or ablution stations, adult and infant change stations, and automatic door openers and hand dryers. 

At the downtown St. George campus, there are many single-use washroom facilities that can be used by all genders. The Scarborough campus has gender neutral bathrooms at its new athletic facility, Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. There's also a multi-user privacy change room at Mississauga's Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre.

Six existing single-gender washrooms will be converted into multi-user all-gender facilities in the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex, Deerfield Hall and the Communication, Culture and Technology buildings. Conversion plans to be implemented over the fall semester include the addition of new stall enclosures, installation of clear signage for the revamped use and a public education campaign. In the communication building, urinals will be semi-private, separated by dividers. In Deerfield Hall and the Health Sciences Complex, private enclosures will be installed around urinals.

“The choice of locations was very thoughtful,” Weststrate says. “Single-user spaces are a Band-Aid solution. They’re often an afterthought, tucked into an out-of-the-way spot. We felt it was important to do multi-stall all-gender washrooms in areas that are easily accessible to everyone.”

The conversions are the first phase of an initiative that will ensure everyone can find facilities on campus. A committee of stakeholders is also considering conversion of bathrooms in other existing buildings on campus, and has secured a commitment that all new buildings will include all-gender washrooms.

“These are spaces where many members of the UTM community will feel more comfortable,” Weststrate says. “That includes transgender people, but also families with young children, individuals with a personal care attendant as well as cis-gender people, male and female, who feel more comfortable in an all-gender space. Community members who prefer single-gender restrooms will find them on other floors.”