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(WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.) — The West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved a measure requiring all new construction or significant renovations to businesses to include only gender-neutral bathrooms.
All single-stall restrooms throughout the city have been required to be designated “gender-neutral” since 2014, but this is the first mandate that all new multi-stall restrooms be marked “gender-neutral.”
“I noticed in my conversations that multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms are kind of the future,” Council member John M. Erickson told ABC News. “It’s easier. Going to the bathroom should just be going to the bathroom.”
Unless they do a major redesign, current businesses won’t be impacted by the new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1.
West Hollywood’s decision comes at a time when debates about who uses public bathrooms have become major topics of conversation in recent years.
Last year, a transgender man from Virginia won a legal battle against his former high school after it refused to let him use the boy’s bathroom when he was a student.
“I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over,” the former student, Gavin Grimm said in a statement at the time. “Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom, and the girl’s room was humiliating for me, and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education.”
In 2019, a Georgia school district reversed its decision to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity after staff members received death threats.
Hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition to boycott Target after it announced in 2016 it was allowing transgender people to use bathrooms and dressing rooms that matched their gender identity.
In 2016, North Carolina passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, also known as the “bathroom bill,” which said that state law overrides all local ordinances concerning wages, employment and public accommodations.
The bill’s passage caused boycotts and protests, which prompted the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.
A year after the bill was passed, North Carolina legislatures approved a bill appealing the “bathroom bill,” but prevented local governments and schools from regulating multi-stall restrooms.
As for West Hollywood, Erickson said that public safety is always the primary concern and that it’s essential to ensure everyone using a bathroom feels safe.
Erickson said that data shows there have been no reported crimes in existing gender-neutral bathrooms in West Hollywood and that any pushback is based on fear-mongering from the right.
“This is about going to the bathroom at the end of the day,” he said. “If we allow science and data to rule our decision, then we know that multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms are not only safe, but the future for the world and the country.”
ABC News’ Karma Allen, Devin Dwyer and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.
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