At the end of last semester, the Brooklyn College Policy Council, which is made up of students, faculty, and administration, voted unanimously to institute all-gender restrooms across the college, one in each of the campus’ buildings.
“It’s a big step,” said chair of BC’s LGBT Resource Committee, Kyle Reese, who has been part of the group working to change the policy since 2017. He called the unanimous decision “Exhilarating.”
The new policy will include one multi-stall all-gender restroom in each building, and is expected to go into effect in the Fall or whenever the majority of students return to campus. Reese says that this has been an uphill battle, marred by pushback and sometimes a lack of understanding on the part of higher ups.
“A lack of communication to upper administration brought on by a lack of understanding and willingness by some of the people that were assigned to work on this with access to upper admin,” he said. After working directly with President Anderson however, Reese was able to push the plan into fruition. “Just being relentless, being pretty clear that this is an important issue and that it’s not going away,” he said.
The decision will help rectify at least some of the issues faced by transgender students at Brooklyn College. The college already has some all-gender bathrooms on campus, like one in James Hall, but this created another problem.
“When a trans person that isn’t comfortable or safe in a gendered bathroom is in class in Ingersoll, they shouldn’t have to traverse across campus,” said Reese. “What ends up happening is that they don’t go at all, which can cause serious medical issues, or they miss a great deal of class time, which affects grades severely.”
Reese will work with facilities to identify bathrooms in each building that will be best, based on traffic and usage.
“Regardless, trans people suffer a 41 percent suicidality rate. Medical problems and suffering grades add to mental health difficulties, so to ease this for our trans classmates is a really necessary step,” he said, “Hopefully one day they’ll be on every floor.”