TEA brings gender-inclusive restrooms to BU’s campus


Gender-inclusive restroom signs have been placed over gendered signs in eight buildings on Baker’s campus.

Story by Lily Stephens, Writer

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Teresa Clounch, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Nicholaus Pumphrey and senior Brittney Harmon placed gender-inclusive restroom signs over the specific gender signs of several single-stalled restrooms around Baker’s campus in early March. With the backing of Total Equality Alliance, these signs went up to allow transgender and non-binary students to have a comfortable space to use the restroom.

Members of TEA have been working for two years to implement this idea, which they hope will leave a lasting impact on campus and allow Baker to be a leader in gender diversity and inclusion.

The gender-inclusive signs have been placed on selected restrooms in the Alumni Center, the Bennett Art Building, Collins Library, the Long Student Center, Mabee Hall, the New Living Center, Parmenter Hall and Owens Musical Arts Building.

In the past, TEA has brought in speakers on International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day of awareness held annually on March 31.

“These speakers shared with us their medical complications that arise from not feeling or being welcome in public restrooms,” Harmon said. “Knowing that we have students and visitors that are impacted by these same complications, last spring we began brainstorming ideas on how to make improvements on our campus for those in similar situations.”

After a brainstorming session and review process, TEA and Clounch decided that transforming these restrooms would be their new mission.

TEA’s purpose as an organization is not only to serve as an ally to the LGBT community but also to help advocate for changes as needed, and the organization saw the bathroom issue as a change that needed to occur.

Most gender-binary students on campus do not have any concerns with the change.

“Bathrooms are bathrooms,” freshman Carlos Galindo said. “People make such a big deal out of it for no reason.”

Non-binary student Blythe Smith, a member of TEA, was excited to see that gender-neutral restrooms were on the club’s to-do list.

“In the future, I hope we can have dorm situations for students who are trans or non-binary,” Smith said.

Smith also said that when filling out a “Same Room, Same Hall” housing form this week, the university provided female, male and non-binary boxes under “gender.”

“I got so excited just seeing that there is the right box for me,” Smith said.

In an interview with KNBU-TV, Clounch said the university and TEA “are really glad about what we are doing.”

Harmon said that if students or staff are uncomfortable with the idea of gender-neutral restrooms to remember “that all people, not just cisgender people who identify with the gender binary, have a right to use the restroom when they need to.”