Today Mayor Ed Murray introduced legislation that would require all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing or future single-occupant restrooms as all-gender facilities. All existing City-controlled single-occupant restrooms (across all City departments, from City Hall to Parks) will be re-signed to conform to this new standard. The proposal was one that was introduced to the City by the Seattle LGBT Commission as part of its ongoing work, and is one of the early recommendations from the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force.
“The transgender community deserves the dignity and respect that most people take for granted,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “That’s why Seattle is building upon our history of being one of the most welcoming cities in the world by ensuring restrooms are available and safe for all.”
This legislation is a powerful and appropriate step in serving the needs of our time and place,” said Marsha Botzer, founding member and secretary of Equal Rights Washington, former chair of the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Founder of Seattle’s Ingersoll Gender Center. “With gender identity now part of a larger Community understanding of what it means to be human, Seattle provides real leadership in responding to and respecting the safety needs of all people who live here. For decades Ingersoll Gender Center has served transgender and gender nonconforming people, and I know personally that this legislation will help individuals.”
This legislation honors that history and reaffirms the City’s commitment to gender equity by implementing measures to provide for all-gender restroom facilities and amending the Seattle Municipal Code to eliminate single-occupant restroom restrictions to a specific sex or gender identity. Single-occupant restrooms in City facilities and all public accommodations (including restaurants, coffee shops, stores, etc.) will be signed for all genders, rather than “men” or “women.”
Despite existing laws protecting a person’s right to use a restroom consistent with their gender identity, transgender and gender nonconforming people are frequently excluded from using facilities consistent with their gender identity, and use of gender-segregated restrooms can create unnecessary risk for transgender and gender nonconforming people.
If passed, the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) will be responsible for enforcing these changes.