Gannon installs gender-neutral bathrooms

Change allows for greater inclusivity on campus

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

Gannon is keeping up the ever-changing world with the installation of gender-neutral restrooms across campus.  

Gannon, a Catholic university rooted in tradition, is prioritizing inclusin.Gannon is committed to the values of equity and social responsibility as outlined in its mission statement. Creating a neutral space for students of all identities to utilize is a step toward progress. 

The all-gender bathrooms are in populated education spaces like Palumbo Academic Center and social halls like the Knight Club. New signs identify these newly dedicated single occupancy restrooms.  

Caonabo Camilo, president of the Queer Collective on campus, said all-gender restrooms are important for a Catholic university where many people have the expectation of lack of inclusion.  

Gannon’s committee for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, JEDI, is responsible for this installation of change.  

Megan Woller, Ph.D., director of liberal studies and faculty director for JEDI’s Gender Resources and Education Subcommittee, and the committee identified the need for all-gender bathrooms on campus in the infancy stage of this project.  

“When we are talking about these things on the JEDI steering committee, the idea of the dignity of the human person is a huge tenant for being at a Catholic institution,” Woller said. “Part of our mission is inclusion.” 

The Rev. Thomas Mathew, associate vice president of University Mission and Ministry, said this change is simple.  

“The change is as much about hospitality as it is about any statement about anything involving gender identity,” Mathew said. 

When planning this project, JEDI and its faculty board, recognized what this change would mean for the Gannon family, especially those who identify as nonbinary or transgender.  

Woller said that in the most basic sense, JEDI aims to make everyone who is a part of the Gannon community feel as though they belong.  

“From the perspective of someone who may not always fit into the stereotypical binary, [all-gender restrooms] alleviate the pressure or anxiety that may come with being in spaces where people may feel that you don’t belong,” Camilo said.  

Woller said that the planning and installation of all-gender bathrooms across Gannon campuses, including the Ruskin campus, is part of a larger university initiative.  

“We started in January of last year, and very passionate people got work done quickly, because a lot of people on campus wanted to see this happen,” Woller said.  

The bathrooms were installed over the summer for student return in the fall.  

As a part of JEDI’s Subcommittee for Gender Resources and Education, research and efforts were exercised in the direction of creating all-gender bathroom signage. 

The individual restrooms were present already and the change is merely signage.  

“If you walk around and you are unfamiliar with the building, it is really hard to find a restroom,” Mathew said. “So [to me] part of this effort is more clearly marking where the restrooms are.” 

JEDI’s Gender Subcommittee did extensive research by studying other universities and institutions who created similar action toward neutrality.  

In order to make this change possible, Woller said JEDI partnered with Physical Plant and Marketing and Communication to see where these signs could be installed outside of single occupancy restrooms university-wide and what the appropriate standard for these signs is.  

Following this step in the planning process, Woller and the JEDI Subcommittee for Gender Resources and Education put forth a proposal to make change happen. 

Changes of this nature must be approved by university leadership. Feedback is shared and changes are requested before the planning process can move forward to the president’s leadership team for recommendation.  

After this long process was complete, the order and installation of these new signs quickly followed.  

“Physical plant and marketing really did the leg work there,” said Woller.  

This change makes an impact, even a few months after the signage installation.  

“The use of bathrooms, especially for those who may be transgender, has been a very prevalent topic in the media for the past few years. I think it may sometimes create a sense of anxiety for students, knowing that it is a possibility that a situation may occur with people who feel as though they should not be able to use the bathroom they need to use,” Camilo said.  

“This isn’t to say that this is an occurrence here on campus, but having these bathrooms may provide that relief of knowing that a situation like that is now avoidable in an environment that’s meant to be a safe space.” 

The hope is that this effort by JEDI will create a similar experience for present and future members of the Gannon family, and encourage similar changes to be made to pursue a deeper sense of inclusion university-wide. 

“Everyone uses the bathroom, and everyone deserves a safe and comfortable space to do that on a daily basis,” Woller said. “The larger initiative of JEDI and what it means to me is a sense of belonging. My hope is that the members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus feel seen and valued.” 


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