MIT launches all-gender bathroom pilot

Four restrooms on campus are all-gender, and there are future plans to identify additional restrooms

MIT has launched a pilot project designating four multi-stalled, non-residential bathrooms as all-gender.

These restrooms are spread out around campus — one in 4-201, another in 5-316, and two in the Media Lab. Updated signs outside the restrooms state that they are all-gender. Signs inside the bathrooms include a QR code that links to a survey to provide feedback on the pilot.

The pilot was funded by the Department of Facilities. According to an email that Diversity and Inclusion Office Judy Jackson wrote to The Tech, the costs for the pilot included paying for modifications to enhance the privacy in the restroom stalls and installing the new signs.

The project was organized by a team of students, faculty, and staff, with support from LBGTQ@MIT, the Office of Campus Planning, the Department of Facilities, and the Provost's Office.

The pilot stemmed from recommendations by student groups such as LBGTQ@MIT, according to Jackson.

During the 2015-16 academic year, LBGTQ@MIT published a list of recommendations for the Institute, including a request for gender-inclusive restrooms. At the time, the group noted that MIT did not “have a strategy to ensure that renovation, reconstruction, and new construction includes Gender Inclusive Restroom spaces across the Institute.”

As the team started to implement the recommendation, MIT Campus Planning and Campus Construction found that Massachusetts state plumbing codes restrict the designation of multi-stall restrooms as either male or female.

MIT was granted a variance by the Massachusetts State Board of of Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.The team is required to report back to the state board in a year.

Jackson wrote, “We plan to seek state approval to make the all-gender designation of the four pilot restrooms permanent, and we hope to identify a moderate number of additional restrooms in various locations around campus that may also be modified for inclusive use.”