Austin City Council approves gender-neutral bathrooms

A sign marks the entrance to a gender neutral restroom
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Bathrooms across the city of Austin will soon be losing their customary “Men” and “Women” signs in favor of gender-neutral labels. The Austin City Council approved a measure Thursday that requires businesses to post the new signs on single-occupancy restrooms. Basically what this means is that men and women will be able to use any public bathroom they want, as long as it’s a single stall.

Nancy Lynch calls Epoch Coffee her home away from home; she spends time there for business and pleasure. Lynch says she has no problem sharing the bathroom with both women and men.

“I don’t see any problem whatsoever. It’s never, ever been a problem for me,” she said.

The coffee shop adopted the gender neutral philosophy when it first opened eight years ago. Employees are also happy to hear some other local businesses could soon be following in their footsteps.

“I think it shows willingness to be welcoming for all types,” Ben Lance told KXAN.

Sponsored by councilman Chris Riley, the point of the new ordinance is to make everyone feel comfortable — including those in the transgender community, those who are disabled and rely on someone for help, as well as parents who have children of the opposite sex.

“I’ve always thought it was ridiculous anyway. Everybody’s just the same,” Lynch said.

But not everyone thinks it’s such a good idea. In fact, some men even admit to not being as clean as women.

“Most men do not wash their hands.” another customer adds, “At businesses it provides for the women a cleaner atmosphere when they have their own restroom.”

While the resolution was approved Thursday, changes to city code won’t happen until the Sept. 25 Council meeting.

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