Gender-neutral restroom access extended under new law

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that is being considered the most inclusive restroom access law in the nation, California officials said Thursday.

Assembly Bill 1732, which was authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, establishes that all single-user restrooms in any California business, government building and or place of public accommodation must be accessible to all genders, according to Ting’s office.

The bill comes as at least 19 other states have recently considered restricting access to restrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities according to biological sex.

The bill, which will go into effect beginning March 1, 2017, was sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center and California NOW, Ting’s office said.

Ting said in a statement:

“California is charting a new course for equality. … Restricting access to single-user restrooms by gender defies common sense and disproportionately burdens the LGBT community, women and parents or caretakers of dependents of the opposite gender. Bathroom access is a biological need. This law will ensure more safety, fairness and convenience access for everyone.”

Earlier this year, San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed similar legislation, introduced by Supervisor David Campos.

That legislation requires that all city businesses change signage on all single-occupancy restrooms, indicating that they are neither for men nor women exclusively.

The switch is intended to benefit trans people and gender non-conforming people who might face harassment while trying to use a restroom.

It’s also intended to benefit parents with opposite gender children, disabled or senior residents with opposite-gender caregivers and women who often face longer lines for public restrooms, according to Campos’ office.

Other cities such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, West Hollywood, Berkeley and New York City have enacted similar legislation.

Of the new state legislation, Campos said:

“This critical legislation expands the access rights we have in San Francisco to every county across our state. This legislation will help ensure that all California residents, including LGBT individuals and people with disabilities, can use the bathroom in peace – without fear of harassment or discrimination.”