Brooklyn College Administrators Investigate Vandalized Gender Inclusive Restrooms

One of the many signs affixed to restrooms across campus, affirming the right of transgender students and faculty to use public restrooms according to their gender identity.

Brooklyn College administrators are investigating vandalized gender-inclusive signs in James Hall after straphangers removed the school-sanctioned signs from restroom doors.

“There have been numerous signs of this kind taken down in different buildings on our campus. Public Safety has been informed and will continue to monitor this situation,” said BC spokesperson Ernesto Mora. “To comply with our policy and our commitment to the LGBTQ community, however, the college intends to purchase new, more permanent signs to be installed as soon as it becomes practical this semester.”

For about three years, advocates in the Brooklyn College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance (LGBTA) club have pressed administrators for gender inclusive signs. Later, they partnered with Brooklyn College President Michelle J. Anderson, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Brooklyn College student government, and Francis X. Fitzgerald, the Assistant Vice President for Facilities, Planning, and Operations.

“We knew there would likely be some backlash, but still, it’s upsetting,” said LGBTA Club president Sami Binder. “It’s a bit ridiculous, considering that them taking the signs down doesn’t actually do anything. The signs simply state what CUNY policy is. Removing the sign won’t remove the policy.”

According to Truth Opaleye, the vice president of the BC student government, who once served as the secretary of the LGBTA club, the project was a lot of “leg work” in the beginning.

“Professor David McKay, director of the resource center, drafted a detailed and well written proposal complete with prototypes of the signs we put on the doors,” said Opaleye. “The club called upon volunteers to take record of all the single-stall restrooms on campus during the winter we got it done.”

In June, the temporary gender-inclusive and gender-neutral signs glued to single-sex stalls and single-occupancy bathrooms read: “Under the law, all individuals have the right to use this single-sex facility consistent with their gender identity or expression” and “This single-use restroom may be used by persons of all genders.”

In the wake of anti-transgender policies by the Trump administration such as a ban on transgender military troops and a revocation of federal bathroom rights for trans students, BC administrators only reaffirmed CUNY and New York State law, which allows for students or faculty to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression.

“With all of the political and social challenges LGBTQIA folks are facing, the least we can do is make it easier and safer for them to perform the same basic human functions that everyone else does,” Binder said.

Jocelyn Setarah said the signs provide a safe space to trans and gender nonconforming students.

“I’d like to think and hope that it would make the queer community in our school feel a little more comfortable,” said Setareh, a psychology major. “This isn’t where it should end, but it’s a good step in the right direction.”

Alison Shur first noticed the signs were missing during the first week of classes. Shur said she was “shocked” by the wave of vandalized signs on campus.

“It disgusts me that someone is so bothered by the thought of transgender people that they would go out of their way to remove a glued-on sign,” said Shur, a senior, biology major. “It could have been anyone. It’s shocking that no one […] has spoken up.”

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