A public library in San Diego was in the spotlight Thursday as it unveiled the city’s first gender-neutral restroom inside a public facility.
The restroom is located inside the University Heights Branch Public Library located at 4193 Park Blvd. An existing single-stall men's room and single-stall women's room have been retrofitted to include signage that now makes each restroom all-gender inclusive.
It’s the first step in the city’s compliance with a state requirement to make all public restrooms gender-neutral by March 1, 2017.
The law – Assembly Bill No. 1732 – was signed was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in late September and states that all single-user toilet facilities in any public place must be identified as “all-gender toilet facilities” with proper signage. The bathrooms are to be used by one person, or can be used by families, senior citizens who need assistance or those who are disabled and need assistance.
The unveiling of the restroom sign was a proud moment for San Diego resident Lily Rubenstein.
“I think it’s a great step forward in equality for trans[gender] people,” she told NBC 7. “I think it’s a great way to help trans people feel safe. It’s also a great thing for seniors and family use. It helps so many people in so many different walks of life.”
Rubenstein said this first gender-neutral restroom in a public facility is a sign that the City of San Diego cares about transgender residents, and their safety while using public restrooms. She said she's looking forward to seeing more single-stall restrooms in the city branded with the all-gender signage in the coming months.
The restroom unveiling was attended by San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria, who also said the move falls in line with the city's mission on equality and inclusion for all.
Gloria said the University Heights Branch Library was the perfect place to put this gender-neutral restroom, as the library stands in the middle of a diverse community known for being forward-thinking and inclusive.
"Whatever individual wants to go in there and use the restroom by themselves, they can do it. It doesn't matter what their gender or their gender identity is," said Gloria.
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The councilmember said the restroom is not only good for transgender users, but also for families with children of the opposite gender and for caregivers looking after an adult of an opposite gender.
"It just makes life a little bit easier, for a lot of folks," he added.
Gloria said that San Diego has chosen to start the process of making restrooms in public facilities gender-neutral many months ahead of the March 1 statewide mandate to solidify the city's "role when it comes to LGBT equality."
Gloria said the city has received some push-back from people who oppose the new restroom signage, but he added, "All this is, is taking a men's room or a women's room, and making it just a restroom. Everyone can have fair access to it."