BY KAYLYN HASLUND
For the UAS Whalesong
UAS is a growing place of inclusion for people of all backgrounds, including those on and off the gender binary. The gender binary is the classification of sex and gender, typically broken down into male and female. The university has done a lot to be open on the topic and continues to work and have a conversation with its students, to see what more needs to be done. Inclusion and steps have been taken to include so many people and to create safe and caring campus.
There is still a lot we can do though, including the creation of spaces safe for people of all gender orientation. While we have the CIA club and training for faculty to be sensitive, there’s still a need to really help people feel safe on this campus. More clear places that would give everyone an open safe place. There has been talk about installing or rather changing some bathrooms around our Juneau campus into gender neutral or unisex bathrooms. This would be a great step forward in having a more inclusive feel for those who struggle with where to go.
Unisex bathrooms would create space for people transitioning, people who are gender neutral, or even help with baby changing stations for fathers. One of the greatest fears for people transitioning or off the gender binary is a public rest room. Bathrooms are where much of violence towards the LGBTQ+ community occurs. So it is important that we look at this possibility as a great step towards helping students, faculty, and otherwise feel safe on our campus. Because safety, both physical and personal is something that should be taken into account with an issue such as this. It would also show how much the campus cares for its students.
The current plan is to change the signs on single stall bathrooms around campus, thus making them gender inclusive. This does propose a problem though; where are these bathrooms and how far would people have to walk to get to them? For many, this poses an issue because not many people actually know about these bathrooms to begin with, and ultimately it seems like it would just further distance the community from the campus. It would create possible alienation. There is also the issue of there being several bathrooms barely used within Egan, or even Mourant, both upstairs and down. This would be a great opportunity to utilize places otherwise not being used.
The most work that would have to be done is spreading the news and changing the signs for said bathrooms. To make sure everyone on campus knows, so there wouldn’t be an issue or mistake. There would still be gendered bathrooms, but there would also be a safe place for those who don’t feel the same security that others might. It might not be easy change, but it would be a welcome change for many people who would benefit from the bathrooms.
Part of growing as a community is having these conflicts and for a subject like this, that it’s up for consideration is sometimes all we can ask for.
While it’s only bathrooms, which admittedly is not the greatest achievement in the world, it is a step in the right direction for a safe place for all people. It’s will open a new for more places to be made safe. And as a college campus, this is one of the best places to do so, especially at a place with such as UAS. Currently though, it is just a conversation, with steps being taken. If anything it’s a good thing to keep in mind for the coming changes that do loom over our campus. This would be a good thing, a good change to come here.