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Bathrooms, bills and bad news

On Jan. 30, Governor Spencer Cox signed House Bill 257. This means schools and government buildings will now require people to use bathrooms, showers and locker rooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kera Birkeland, frames the issue as protecting women’s privacy. However, it limits the rights of transgender individuals.

Jayden Mason, treasurer for Weber State University’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, explained how this is troubling since a large majority of students likely won’t even notice, but it is harmful to the transgender students at Weber.

The bill creates penalties for those who enter bathrooms of the opposite sex, listing offenses such as lewdness, loitering or even voyeurism.

“My hope is that it’s not enforced as strictly as it theoretically could be. But I wouldn’t particularly count on that,” Mason said.

The bill designates that these buildings will include a unisex bathroom or facility for those uncomfortable using men’s or women’s restrooms.

Weber State is already ahead of the game in this regard as most buildings already have a single-stall bathroom.

According to the LGBTQ Center’s website, there are 28 single-stall bathrooms on the Ogden Campus and six on the Davis Campus. The website includes locations of these restrooms, as well as an online map. Additionally, Swenson Gym offers a single-stall shower and changing room near the pool.

In 2014, Adrienne Andrews reached out to Mark Halverson, director of campus planning and construction at the time, to address a complaint made by a few transgender students who didn’t feel comfortable changing in either the women’s or men’s locker rooms. He and his team came up with a few options.

The first option was adding a shower to a unisex restroom that was already located near the pool. However, that would require removing the baby changing station that was already there.

“The second option was we would rearrange everything in the bathroom, push a wall out the back, eat a little bit of storage room that comes off the pool, and create a full shower in there and leave the baby changing station so that it could still be used for a single occupant or family bathroom as well,” Halverson said.

An additional option was that they could put a shower out on the pool deck so people could shower there and then get changed in the bathroom.

The final decision was the second option. The project began at the end of 2014, costing $34,000 to renovate and taking 2-3 months to complete, according to Halverson.

On top of the bathroom map, the LGBTQ Center has other resources available on its website as well as in its office. The center currently shares an office with the Women’s Center in Shepherd Union, Suite 323.

As far as current efforts go, leaders from GSA want students to know that the best thing to do is to vote and make their voices heard.

“I think it’s important to use our voices and make sure that the government hears us and understands that we are not okay with this bill. And I think it’s important to keep up hope, too,” Kit Byrd, president of GSA, said. “We have made a lot of really great strides in the past, so I don’t think that this one bill is going to signal a change in everything. I think we can still fight this and fight for our rights.”

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