New guidelines being implemented for gender inclusive facilities

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Sarah Latham and Ashish Sahni

The University of California sets the global standard of inclusiveness, understanding, and equitable treatment in all its endeavors, creating a world where individuals and communities of diverse sexuality and gender identity and expression are safe, supported, respected, empowered, and truly equal.
— 
UC President Janet Napolitano, June 10, 2015


UC Santa Cruz is strongly committed to building and maintaining a campus environment that supports and values all members of our community including visitors. Our campus is currently in the process of implementing new University of California Guidelines for Providing Gender Inclusive Facilities issued by President Napolitano and effective as of July 1, 2015.

The guidelines were the result of recommendations made to President Napolitano by the UC Task Force and Implementation Team on LGBT Culture and Inclusion. Our own Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Herbie Lee, who also serves as the Campus Diversity Officer-Faculty, was a member of the task force.

In accordance with the university’s nondiscrimination policies, these guidelines “seek to create an inclusive campus environment for transgender and gender variant people.“ The guidelines affirm that individuals have the rights to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity and focus on providing a safe environment, consistent with our Principles of Community and other efforts that promote civility and respect. Gender inclusion should provide access and equality by creating and maintaining an environment that is accessible, safe, and respectful of all individuals.

UC Santa Cruz began converting single occupancy restrooms into gender inclusive facilities on the main campus long before the new UC guidelines were issued as a result of effective advocacy efforts and forward thinking on the part of students, and supportive staff and faculty.

This is just a beginning and only part of our continuing efforts to create and maintain an inclusive campus environment. Other important efforts include the addition of a new Transgender Educator who will soon join the staff at the Cantú Center.

The guidelines apply to UC-owned facilities including new construction and renovation projects for existing facilities.  The following is required in the first year of implementation: establishing a process for implementing the guidelines; completing an audit of all UC owned buildings noting existing gender inclusive facilities in each building; conversion of existing single occupancy restrooms, showers and changing rooms in UC owned buildings to gender inclusive facilities; posting directional signage to the nearest gender inclusive facility where appropriate; establishing waiver and complaint processes; developing appropriate signage for gender inclusive facilities and posting the locations of gender inclusive facilities on the campus website. In addition, new building construction and major renovations beginning design on or after July 1, 2015 should include gender inclusive facilities where not already present.

During the summer, we appointed a Gender Inclusive Facilities Guidelines Implementation Workgroup to oversee first year implementation of the guidelines and make recommendations for institutionalizing provisions of the guidelines going forward.  Workgroup members recognize that existing gender inclusive facility signage may not reflect current best practices and the workgroup will be soliciting input from and involving interested campus constituencies in selecting the design of new permanent signage. In addition to ensuring each location meets the technical requirements of the guidelines, President Napolitano encouraged continued consultation with campus LGBT councils, committees, and centers and the workgroup is strongly committed to doing so.

For more information, please contact co-coordinators of the workgroup: Jean Marie Scott (jmscott@ucsc.edu) or Ciel Benedetto (cbene@ucsc.edu).

The guidelines are available for review at:

http://www.ucop.edu/construction-services/facilities-manual/resource-directories-rds/rd4-project-programmatic-guidelines/rd-4-1.html

We invite you to join us in working to ensure everyone at UC Santa Cruz feels that they are welcome and valued members of our community.