The City Council just passed a groundbreaking LGBT rights bill, which mandates that there be gender neutral bathrooms in all new or renovated city-owned buildings. The bill passed by a 14-3 margin, and all three council members who voted no said they "supported the spirit" of the bill but had issues with specific provisions of the bill.
Kenney's bill passes #PhillyCouncil with a 14-3 vote. One audience member booing, after cheering each no vote. He's being asked to be quiet.— NewsWorks/WHYY (@GtownWOLane) April 25, 2013
Many concerns over gender neutral bathrooms centered around the unsubstantiated fear that sex-segregated bathrooms would be replaced. However, it appears that gender neutral restrooms will be offered in addition to existing sex-segregated restrooms. The gender neutral restrooms won't cost the city any additional money, because single stall accessible restrooms are already required in city-owned buildings, and can easily be converted to gender neutral bathrooms by changing their signage.
In fact, national media that has covered this story, has focused mostly on gender neutral restrooms, and not on the other, somewhat more important provisions of the bill, like the ones that cover transition-related healthcare for transgender city employees, offer tax credits to employers that included domestic partner benefits in their employee healthcare plans, and make all city forms and websites gender neutral.
Gender neutral restrooms will make city-owned buildings more accessible for all Philadelphians, and they are an important change to the city's physical landscape. However, the hype and fear around gender neutral bathrooms is wildly disproportionate. If you're a cisgender (non-transgender) Philadelphian, please know that gender-neutral bathrooms are no cause for alarm. In fact, you probably won't even notice them.
· Groundbreaking News About Bathrooms. No, Really [Curbed Philly]
· Jim Kenney, Philadelphia City Councilman, Proposes Gender-Neutral Bathrooms [Huffington Post]
· Lurid Curiosity: Philly Media Expresses Consternation Transgender Are Human Beings [Josh Kruger]
· Committee Passes Landmark LGBT Equality Bill [Philly Gay News]