‘No plans’ to add all-gender bathrooms to existing buildings

One of 11 all-gender restrooms on main campus and Chapman Studios West is located in Doti Hall. The university will include all-gender bathrooms in new buildings, but has no plans to build them in older buildings. Photo by Kaitlin Homan

Although California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in September that requires all public single-user bathrooms to post signs that read “all-gender,” none of the bathrooms at Chapman had to be changed by the March 1 deadline.

All single-user restrooms were gender-neutral prior to the bill, said Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations Kris Olsen.

Dean of Students Jerry Price said that, due to issues like plumbing rerouting and the difficulty of finding new spaces for bathrooms in old buildings, there are no plans to build all-gender bathrooms in existing buildings.

“I’m going to feel dissatisfied with things until we at least get (a gender-inclusive bathroom) in Argyros Forum,” Price said. “(Argyros Forum) is kind of the hub of campus life, and the fact that we don’t have at least a gender-inclusive bathroom in this building bothers me.”

There are 11 locations on the university’s main campus and Chapman Studies West that have all-gender bathrooms.

However, Olsen said that the university now includes single-user all-gender bathrooms in the new buildings it constructs.

Juan Bustillo, vice president of the Queer and Trans People of Color Collective, said that the fact that the university doesn’t plan to add gender-inclusive bathrooms in older buildings is “kind of ridiculous.”

“It’s not really that hard to put up a sign that says ‘gender-neutral bathroom,’” Bustillo said. “I think it’s overcomplicated a little bit more than it should be.”

Bustillo said that while bathroom access is not at the forefront of the issues discussed by the club – discussions tend to focus on issues such as sex education for the queer community and the murder rates of transgender people – some students in the club have said that they feel uncomfortable going into multi-stall
gendered bathrooms.

“It can be a really stressful thing to go to the bathroom, which seems pretty ridiculous,” Bustillo said. “(Students will) walk from Beckman Hall to the library or from Argyros Forum to the library just because there’s no gender-inclusive bathrooms.”

Price said that the university has received reports from transgender students that they don’t feel comfortable using multi-stall bathrooms.

“(Transgender students get comments) ranging from people just assuming that they went in the wrong (restroom), to others that report more of a judgmental tone,” Price said. “But to me, no one has reported a specific instance, of ‘I was in a bathroom and a transgender student made me uncomfortable.’ Not a single instance.”

According to the university’s statement on gender-inclusive bathrooms, students are currently permitted to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable in under Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in schools.

The statement also says that students who do not identify with the gender binary can choose which bathroom they feel is appropriate, and are not required to provide documentation to do so.

Rebeccah Glaser contributed to this report.


  • In the redesign of Reeves Hall, the College of Educational Studies made a deliberate effort to include gender-neutral restrooms. Currently under renovation, the new Reeves Hall will have two gender-neutral restrooms on the first and second floors. Chapman University expects to open the renovated Reeves Hall in spring 2018.

    I am very encouraged the university is committed to renovating old buildings: bringing them up to code; adding ADA compliant doors, hallways, and elevators; adding gender neutral restrooms and other modern amenities. It’s a significant investment in time, money, and resources, and will make them more welcoming and inclusive work, study, learning, and collaborative environments.

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