By MARTY LEVINE
Pitt has instituted a number of gender-inclusive, single-occupancy restrooms in the past few years (see below), but the situation still has room for improvement, one trans graduate student told a Senate committee late last year.
Unable to find such a bathroom in their building, they went into a women’s room, only to be immediately shouted at by an occupant. The shouting stopped mid-sentence — something made the woman realize her mistake — but it was too late. The sense of distress could still be felt, the trans grad student said. Searching for a bathroom that can be used without a confrontation in their workplace should not be an impossible task.
“It hasn’t been huge but we know that it’s a substantial need of the community,” said Carrie Benson, senior manager for prevention and education, Office for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. The office has had a trans working group since 2016, with about 20 members from a variety of University offices. That includes Facilities Management, which receives any complaints about a lack of gender-inclusive, single-occupancy restrooms in a Pitt building given to the working group, and examines how a solution might be handled — from mere signage switching to a renovation in an old building.
“Restrooms are pretty central to the way that we work” and live, Benson said. “Restrooms that are easy to access around campus is very important. The University has a practice that people can use the restroom that best corresponds to their gender identity,” but looking for a restroom to use privately shouldn’t be something around which you need to schedule your day, she added.
“We have a lot of historic buildings and because of that we have challenges with our restrooms,” Benson said — particularly in and around O’Hara Street, in some of the campus’s oldest buildings. For major renovations and new building construction, having single-occupancy gender-inclusive restrooms “is part of the design work that they do” at Facilities Management, she said. But if any current building’s floor has just two multiple-person gendered bathrooms, Pitt community members can request large-scale changes, “but certainly it comes with a specific budget needed to make these changes,” she cautioned.
Her office has no statistics on the number of trans people at Pitt, nor on the number of requests for bathroom modifications or placements. The former data is now collected for new employees who wish to volunteer it, so Benson believes a clearer picture of the need may emerge in the future.
Scott Bernotas, vice chancellor of Facilities Management, said that “the University is … installing single-use, gender-inclusive restrooms in all new buildings, as well as those with major renovations. Current and future construction projects, including Hillman Library renovations, Salk Hall, Alan Magee Scaife Hall, the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center and the Arena and Sports Performance Center have single-use, gender-inclusive restrooms planned.”
The main challenges, he said, for placing such new bathrooms within existing buildings are “space restrictions and renovation costs,” he added. “Each location presents different challenges to provide placement within existing building space restrictions and renovation costs which vary by area. With this in mind, we have ensured single-use, gender-inclusive restrooms are available throughout campus.”
Benson concluded: “I have seen this issue, I have seen the advancement and it’s really exciting, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Locations of single-use, gender-inclusive restrooms
According to Facilities Management, gender-inclusive, single-occupancy restrooms are available in the following Pitt locations. A map that can be used to pinpoint such bathrooms is also available online.
3343 Forbes Ave: 2nd floor near elevator
Amos Hall: 1st floor, fitness center; 2nd-10th floors: guest bathrooms (one per floor)
Barco Law Building: Ground floor and 2nd floor, two each near conference room
Bellefield Hall: 2nd floor, 209A and accessible restroom 1st floor
Benedum Hall: basement, B95 and B96
BST 3: 6th floor, 6014B, 6014C and 6014D
Cathedral of Learning: One each on ground, 2nd and 3rd floors; 1613; 2101B; 2501E; 2792; lobby of 26th floor and two single-stall restrooms on 18th floor.
Center Plaza: 6th floor
Child Development Center: 115 Annex
College Garden Apartments: basement of 5820 and 5840 Elwood Ave. and 5821, 5831 and 5841 Walnut St.
Craig Hall: 5th floor
Darragh Street Apartments: 1st floor
Eberly Hall: 1st floor
Falk Clinic: Room 469
Forbes Craig Apartments: 1st floor
Forbes Hall: 3rd and 6th floors, one per floor
Franklin Apartments: 1st floor
Fraternity Housing Complex: Guest bathrooms
Frick Fine Arts: 1st floor, 113
Heinz Chapel: Basement
Hillman Library: Ground floor
Holland Hall: Guest bathrooms on floors 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9. On 11th floor, North Lounge, guest bathroom and shower
Information Science Building: Rooms 693, 895, 897
Lawrence Hall: Room 230A
Litchfield Towers: Floors 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 in all three Towers, plus floor 18 in Towers A and B. Also in Market Central Quick Zone and All You Can Eat Area
Nordenberg Hall: main lobby, two; 2nd floor, wellness center (requires escort) and observation room; floors 3-10 near laundry room
Mayflower Apartments: 1st floor
Music Building: Rooms 118 and 308
O’Hara Student Center: 2nd floor lobby
Petersen Events Center: 2nd floor, 2030; Club Level common area room 4016; Concourse Level common area room 5070
Posvar Hall: 3rd floor
Ruskin Hall: Lobby
Salk Hall: Room 1075 (1st floor) and 367B (3rd floor)
Salk Annex: Basement, B106 and B61 and 3rd floor, 3087
Sennott Square: 4th floor
Stephen Foster Memorial: Lower-level mezzanine
University Club: 2nd and 4th floor guest bathrooms
Trees Hall: 1st floor, 115
Victoria Hall: Rooms 131 and 243
William Pitt Union: Rooms 618 and 818
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-758-4859.
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