The first all-gender restrooms on OU’s campus were opened in Beaird Lounge in the Oklahoma Memorial Union on Tuesday.
Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs said the conversation about placing all-gender restrooms on campus was started by former Department of Inclusivity director and OU alumna Vanessa Meraz.
Gibbs said about two years ago, Destinee Dickson, another former director of the Department of Inclusivity, wrote a memo to get the all-gender restrooms passed based on the framework Meraz had planned.
“And then within (these) past few months, with Jamelia Reed, who was the Department of Inclusivity co-director, (Dickson) helped scout out potential locations for the all-gender restrooms,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said he had helped each of the past two SGA administrations ensure the restroom implementation took place.
“I was just kind of assisting those directors and co-directors of inclusivity to make sure that this is something that happens on campus,” Gibbs said. “So it’s finally taken all this time in the past two-and-a-half, three years for it to come to fruition. And now, they’re finally open.”
Gibbs said the location for the first all-gender restrooms was decided based on discussions among the SGA, OU Student Affairs and the Gender + Equality Center.
Did you know that the Union’s first All Gender Restrooms are open? Come check them out in the back of Beaird Lounge on the 2nd floor! pic.twitter.com/jyhKTdqGKu— OU Gender + Equality (@GEC4OU) November 5, 2019
“It all kind of came together at the right time and place because the Gender + Equality Center needed a new space, because they were kind of cramped in their old space in the Union,” Gibbs said. “And it all just came together to put them all in one place, and I think it’s only fitting that the first set on campus are in front of the Gender + Equality Center.”
The Gender + Equality Center moved from Suite 247 in the Union to Beaird Lounge earlier this year.
In a final executive branch report given in SGA Undergraduate Student Congress on Tuesday, Gibbs said he plans to create about 45 more all-gender restrooms before the end of his administration.
He said the primary goal in opening the restrooms was to recognize nonbinary, gender nonconforming and transgender students on campus.
“I think it’s really important to validate these people in every way that we can. And I think sometimes we forget that just using the restroom is a fundamental right that everyone has,” Gibbs said. “So I think for those individuals, it’s most important for them to make sure that they feel validated on campus.”