Oakland University student group calls for Unisex bathrooms on campus

Are men's and women's restrooms enough?

Rochester, Michigan (WXYZ) - Most public places have men's restrooms and ladies restrooms, but is that enough?

A group of students at Oakland University say no.

They say often gender is not simple, and there are students who feel uncomfortable in both the men's and women's rooms. They would like to see unisex bathrooms in all buildings.

"I feel anxiety when I think about deciding which restroom to use," said Shawn Harvey.

Harvey was born physically female, but says his gender identity has always been male.  A few years ago he started undergoing hormone treatments, and is now a transgendered male.

He says there have been times when he has been questioned after using the men's room, and there have been times when he has been thrown out of women's room by men who fear he is a predator.

Tuesday Harvey and other students took part in what they're calling the "Gender Safe on O.U." movement. the group gathered to collect signatures on campus. They plan to present the university with a petition requesting unisex bathrooms in every building.

"These bathrooms serve many different purposes; family restrooms for students and guests with young children they cannot take into gendered bathrooms; a single handicap bathroom, which would be more convenient and private to someone who may need help; and a safe space for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community, because many times these individuals do not feel safe or comfortable using gendered bathrooms that may not match their gender identity," explained Victoria Esnault, one of the students gathering signatures.

Students learning about the petition effort for the most part understood the discomfort transgendered students feel. Some did question how much it would cost to provide unisex restrooms in every building, and whether it was really necessary.

The university released a statement saying, "Oakland University is committed to maintaining a safe, diverse and inclusive environment, and provides numerous programs, services and communication channels to help meet the needs of our faculty, staff and students. The university gladly accepts ideas and proposals put forth in the spirit of enhancing a welcoming environment and will evaluate them within the scope of financial and facility resources and priorities."

Students say they will be gathering signatures every Tuesday in the coming weeks and holding a "Gender Bender" event to raise awareness of their effort on Monday, November 26, 2012.

 Action News wants to know what you think about this. Should unisex bathrooms be provided in all buildings at college campuses? Should this effort be taken on beyond Oakland University? Leave your comments below.

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