Stanford University hosted an open house at its new all-gender locker room in the Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center last week, the Stanford Daily reported.
The locker room — open to anyone regardless of gender identity — was converted from men's and women's restrooms, the paper said, and includes three private showers with changing rooms, one dry changing room, five private bathroom stalls, and day-use lockers.
It's a step in the right direction, according to some students who feel that gyms can be unwelcome spaces. https://t.co/PoovnodMsO
— The Stanford Daily (@StanfordDaily) January 15, 2019
'More inclusive environment for the campus community'
When work began on the project last August, the Stanford News noted it was "part of the university's wider efforts to create a more inclusive environment for the campus community."
"The Stanford community over the past five or six years has been more vocal about all-gender spaces," Rebecca Carpenter, assistant athletic director for facilities and operations, told the News at the time. "We've had a handful of faculty, staff and students meet with us about inclusive opportunities within recreation facilities."
More from the Stanford Daily:
The new locker room also aids the University's effort to have gender-inclusive single-occupancy restrooms in all buildings by 2020.
At the open house were several partner groups, including the Weiland Health Initiative, whose Gender Inclusive Stanford initiative aims to improve campus life for transgender and gender non-conforming members of the Stanford community.
"One of the projects that has been going on for a while is increasing the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms or changing facilities at gyms that are available on campus," Weiland Health Associate and student Caroline Zha told the Daily. "There aren't a lot of spaces for students who feel uncomfortable going into either a male or a female bathroom to carry out basic bodily functions."
Student Bobby Radecki, another Weiland Health Associate, told the Daily said that spaces like the gym and pool — where students might be wearing revealing athletic clothing — "can be especially distressing to folks who are trans and gender non-conforming who might not be totally comfortable with their bodies."
Radecki added to the paper that "athletic facilities can really be a place of high stress, and so having the gender-neutral locker room is definitely a positive step in helping to alleviate that."
'We feel out of place, stared at, or just generally alienated'
But student Brandon Alvarez — a resident of an LGBTQ+-themed campus co-op — told the Daily that "much work still needs to be done if the community is going to feel welcome" in such spaces.
"As of currently, many of us in the queer community often feel reluctant to engage in spaces like the AOERC because we feel out of place, stared at, or just generally alienated by the space itself," Alvarez told the paper. "I'm excited for the changes that [the all-gender locker room] may bring, and hope that the university works to consult with the community as to how it can make historically unwelcoming places such as these more amicable and open to the community at large."
(H/T: The College Fix)