By Nick Fish
When arbitrary barriers in our community are removed, everyone wins.
That’s why the City of Portland has been working to remove gender designations in our bathrooms, and to encourage the private sector to do the same.
Today, when you visit one of our parks, stop by a fire station, or pick up a permit at the Portland Building, you’ll discover that our single-stall restrooms are now labelled “All-User”. Our sign shows what’s behind the door – a toilet – rather than who can use it.
This long-overdue change benefits everyone in our community, including parents with young children, older adults with an attendant, people with a disability, transgender individuals, and anyone who doesn’t like waiting in a long line! That’s why, in contrast to North Carolina and Houston, Portlanders cheered the change.
We wouldn’t have had this much early success without help from trusted partners like Basic Rights Oregon. But we need your continued help to take it to the next level.
In April, I challenged the business community to convert 1,000 single-stall gender-specific restrooms into all-user facilities. The challenge runs through the end of 2017.
The initial response has been gratifying. Businesses across the city are changing the signs on their restroom – sending a strong message to their customers that all are welcome.
But in a city of 19,000 businesses, we can’t reach our long-term goal without a bigger team.
Here’s where my friends at BRO come in.
Every day, you shop at your favorite local businesses, big and small. Restaurants and coffee bars, department stores and clothing exchanges, book stores and movie theaters, gyms and spas, hardware stores and more.
You are our best advocates for change. If you see a single-stall gender-specific restroom that could easily be converted, don’t assume that the owner is making a statement and it’s a lost cause. Consider mentioning it to the owner or manager, and let them know they could take a small step and make a big difference.
Or, you can use one of the handy fliers made by the team at Basic Rights Oregon that explains the challenge. And if you aren’t comfortable talking to the owner yourself, let us know, and we’ll be happy to talk to them.
If you’re a business owner and want to explain why you’ve created an all-user restroom, click here to download a flyer you can post!
Portland is proud to be a welcoming place for all. In these challenging times, when so many of our values are under attack, it’s up to all of us to stand for justice.
Nick Fish is a Portland City Commissioner.