MINNEAPOLIS – The city of Minneapolis announced this week that it will install all-gender restrooms in all city-owned buildings.
In a press release, city officials called the move an effort to “further transgender equity” by making sure Minneapolis’ “policies and services are inclusive of transgender community and staff.”
Over the next few weeks, bathrooms in 44 city buildings including fire department offices, fire stations, police precincts, public works facilities, and city-owned parking ramps will receive new signs and, in some cases, new security locks. The seemingly small project is expected to cost $17,000.
The new bathrooms would be in addition to existing traditional men’s and women’s restrooms. Once the project is complete, there will be 62 all-gender bathrooms available to people who are uncomfortable in men’s or women’s rooms. The bathrooms also will function like family bathrooms, providing an option to parents of children or people with caregivers who are a different gender from themselves.
Implementing all-gender bathrooms is just the first step in the city’s efforts. City staff are planning to make locker rooms and shower facilities “inclusive.”
“City staff are already planning for the next phases of this effort, which will involve making locker room and shower facilities inclusive,” the release reads. “Also, as buildings are constructed and remodeled for City use, staff will explore accommodating multi-stall, all-gender restrooms and changing rooms.”
City officials have not released a cost estimate for the next phase of their transgender effort.
Debate surrounding transgender bathrooms has reached new levels since President Donald Trump rescinded protections and guidelines put in place by the Obama administration for transgender students in school. The guidelines implemented under a federal law, known as Title IX, allowed transgender and gender nonconforming students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their gender identity. The Justice and Education Departments issued letters to schools reversing the federal policy and guidelines, and turned the issue back to the states.
As Alpha News previously reported, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) plans to roll out a “gender toolkit” for schools dealing with transgender and gender nonconforming students. The directive is based off of the now repealed Title IX guidelines, and contains various practices schools can use when handling transgender and gender nonconforming students, including guidance on how to handle student housing and overnight accommodations when school sports teams travel. Over 60 state legislators have come out against the toolkit, calling it “fraudulent” and a “harmful agenda.”
Adherence to the rescinded guidelines puts MDE and schools potentially at odds with Minnesota Human Rights Act 363A.24 which states provisions of full and equal enjoyment of public facilities does not apply to locker rooms, bathrooms, and other such facilities.
Minneapolis’ addition of all-gender bathrooms is different than MDE’s recommendations in the toolkit, and does not appear to conflict with the law. Rather than encouraging transgender and gender nonconforming people to use the bathroom of their gender identity, all-gender bathrooms allows separate facilities for those who are uncomfortable with the traditional men’s and women’s restrooms.