Gender Neutral Restrooms
In 1887, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate that businesses provide female employees with a “sufficient number” of separate restroom facilities. The availability of gendered restrooms began as a movement for women to relieve themselves safely and comfortably in the public sphere.
More than a century later, our understanding of gender has progressed, but in many places restrooms have not changed. Divided along the historical man/woman binary (with signage reflecting traditional fashion silhouettes of pants and skirts), such spaces fail to accommodate people who may not identify with that binary, including transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals. In addition, restrooms do not always accommodate individuals with disabilities.
[Taken from a sign at the MFA in Boston]
Facilities at WH Science Institutions
MBL – All single user restrooms are gender-neutral. See map with locations of these bathrooms HERE.
NOAA/NEFSC – NE Fisheries Science Center buildings have common gendered bathrooms. Under federal policy, NMFS facilities in Woods Hole "allow individuals to use restroom facilities and related areas consistent with their gender identity."
SEA – 12 of 16 restrooms at SEA are all-gender.
USGS – The governing policy from the US Department of Interior (PB-13-03) dictates treating all employees with dignity and respect, and supports employees in using restrooms which correspond to their gender identity. USGS in Woods Hole occupies a building owned by WHOI and thus meets WHOI’s policy described below.
WHOI – Most restrooms at WHOI are gendered; but there are a number of single-stall restrooms that are all-gender, and new signage has been implemented to provide directions to the nearest all-gender restrooms. While there is no explicit policy in place, WHOI welcomes people to use the restroom with which they are most comfortable.
Woodwell Climate – 9 of 11 restrooms at WCRC are all-gender.