Sex & Relationships

Ateneo Isn’t The First to Install Gender-Neutral Restrooms Towards Inclusivity

Ally McBeal hit it first.
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The discussion about LGBTQ rights with regards to public restroom policies were sparked anew when it was announced last week that Ateneo de Manila installed all-gender restrooms across its campus. In a release dated March 23, the school pointed out that the 14 new restrooms, which accommodate only one person each, may be used by anyone, regardless of gender identity or expression. These new restrooms are part of Ateneo’s “effort to create an environment of inclusivity.”

Unsurprisingly, the announcement was met with a lot of insensitivity from the general public on the Internet. Abandon all hope, all ye who read the comments on this post about Ateneo's new gender-neutral restrooms by Rappler:

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But this sort of conservative outrage isn’t new. We’ve seen it before, and have come to expect it every time an establishment decides to go join the rest of the world in the 21st century. Ateneo de Manila is just the most recent major institution in the Philippines to install gender-neutral restrooms. Here are just a few others:

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St. Louis University
Just this month, St. Louis University—a Catholic university in Baguio—opened its first gender-neutral restroom in an explicit effort to be accepting of a diverse student body.

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Lyceum of The Philippines University
In March 2017, the Lyceum of The Philippines University approved a motion filed by student organization LPU Kasarian to install two gender neutral restrooms.

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Ateneo de Davao
More than a year ahead of the Manila campus, Ateneo de Davao installed all-gender restrooms, in an effort that ADDU President Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. hopes will “foster greater insight into and understanding of the LGBT community and the needs of others who interact with it.” In September of 2016, all single restrooms in the Jacinto campus were designated as all-gender.

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Quezon City
Back in 2014, the local government of Quezon City passed a “gender-fair” ordinance to protect members of the LGBTQ community. The ordinance contained a specific provision stating that “all government agencies, private offices, and commercial/industrial establishments shall designate toilet rooms and lavatories labelled as all-gender CR.” Earlier that year, QC-based call center employee and trans woman Mara La Torre filed a criminal complaint against a security guard who wouldn’t allow her to use the women’s restroom, citing a 2003 ordinance that likewise had anti-discrimination provisions. Separately, for its part, business process outsourcing company Convergys went public with its compliance to this ordinance in 2017.

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Liloan Municipal Plaza
In 2016, Liloan City mayor Christina Frasco together with her husband, vice-mayor Duke Frasco launched the Liloan LGBT Federation and the “Liloan Loves LGBTs” program, with the goal of promoting inclusivity.  As part of the launch, they introduced a all-gender public restroom in the city plaza.

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Shell
The refinery of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation in Tabangao, Batangas has at least two all-gender restrooms as well.

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Accenture
As a company with a robust global LGBT inclusivity program, Accenture has been making an effort to set an example here in the Philippines. One of their solutions architects, Rica Paras, is a trans woman who was acknowledged by OUTstanding and The Financial Times for helping to “inform the company’s inclusion of All Gender restrooms and Gender Authentic Dress Code policies in the Philippines.” However, in a 2016 story by Buzzfeed about LGBTQ inclusivity in Philippine call centers, one Accenture employee revealed a lapse in the implementation of their policies in 2011, saying that as a trans woman, she was denied entry into the women’s restroom.

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Provincial Commercial Airports
As part of its Gender Awareness Program, the Civil Aviation Authority of The Philippines (CAAP) committed in 2015 to building gender-neutral restrooms in 11 provincial commercial airports, and one at the CAAP main office. They listed airports in Busuanga, Butuan, Calbayog, Cauyan, Dipolog, Legaspi, Masbate, Naga, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Tuguegarao as the locations for these restrooms.

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Jonas Pares
An institution by its own right—although admittedly, it feels a little random in this context—iconic pares joint Jonas joins the ranks of those who have installed all-gender public restrooms. Specifically, their BGC branch has one.

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Thus far, however, there doesn't seem to be an easily-accessible reference of all-gender restrooms in Metro Manila. If you'd like to take part in rectifying that, perhaps a good place to start would be Refuge Restrooms, a smartphone app that plots all-gender restrooms on a map for anyone who would prefer to use them. There aren't a lot of entries for Metro Manila (just the UP Center for Women's Studies and a Starbucks in Taytay), but users can submit locations to help build a more comprehensive list.

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