Gender Neutral Bathrooms a Logistical Nightmare?
The controversies surrounding gender-neutral bathrooms is raising a stink across the United States, but not just in LGBT and conservative circles.
City developers and building planners are now having to address the underlying questions of cost.
"Bathrooms have reflected changes in society throughout the years," Georgie Márquez, with Andre Marquez Architects, in Norfolk, Virginia, told CBN News.
For example, family bathrooms are a relatively new accomodation to provide service to families not comfortable allowing their older children to use the restroom alone. This has been especially helpful for families with children with challenges or special needs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act has also impacted the changing setup of public restrooms as the government issues more codes every year.
More changing tables have also been placed in both men and women's bathrooms, reflecting a shift in the societal role of men and women in the home.
Now that LGBT activists are demanding access to their choice of restrooms, a whole new slate of regulations could be coming down the pike that will impact future building codes.
Austin, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., have adopted regulations for gender neutral bathrooms, and other cities will probably follow suit in the months ahead.
But the possibility for gender neutral bathroom requirements also raises questions regarding architectual planning in order to meet future building codes.
Developers in Charlotte, North Carolina, which recently rejected gender neutral bathrooms, opposed the proposal because of the potential added costs, according to Building Design and Construction.
The transition could be easier for smaller businesses, but for large-scale planning, like a stadium or theater, some architects are already asking questions.
"Right now in the building code you have, for example, "Assembly" - which would be a theater. You have to have a water closet or toilet: one for every 125 men, one for every 65 women. Now you include people who don't fall under the male or female, how do you count them?" Márquez pointed out.
"You need to have more toilets for women because they take longer, but is all of that going to change? Are we going to do stalls around urinals?" she said.
Márquez predicts it will be common to see semi-private bathrooms in public places in the future.
"Where it's not just a stall, but there are doors and privacy in the bathrooms. More unisex but more privacy within the cubicles," she said. "It's definitely going to be more expensive, especially because are they going to now have more toilets in the male bathrooms? It gets into the whole biology of things."