A bill to fund a gender-neutral bathroom in Lied Recreation Center was tabled until next year at the Student Government meeting April 21 to allow all parties involved to have more time to agree on the specifics of the bill and improve the outcome.
The bill is requesting $55,000 to build a gender-neutral bathroom in addition to a feminine hygiene product dispenser in the facility, which currently has no gender-neutral bathrooms.
Sen. Kit Clayburn, a sophomore in animal ecology, introduced the bill, which was co-sponsored by Speaker Dawson Weathers, a senior in political science and philosophy.
Clayburn, also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, tabled the bill during the April 21 meeting. He said in a virtual interview that he does not anticipate the bill needing much more work in the fall but noted that everything on campus takes time.
Weathers said in an emailed statement that he agrees with Clayburn’s tabling of the bill due to the large price tag and the importance of having all parties involved on the same page before moving forward. He also expressed his continued support for the bill.
“It’s a deeply worthwhile project,” Weathers said, “so I look forward to helping with it over the summer and seeing it again next semester.”
Other students also had positive reactions to the bill.
Teddy White, a freshman in world languages and cultures, emphasized the importance of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
“Having a gender-neutral bathroom can really help create a safe space for students who are not only transgender and not completely comfortable with themselves enough to use their preferred restroom, but also for students who don’t necessarily identify under the gender binary,” White said.
White added that gender-neutral bathrooms help cisgender people — those who are assigned a sex at birth and continue to identify as that sex — become more aware of people who are not cisgender.
“It helps us trans students and students who don’t identify under the gender binary become seen in a very safe way," White said. "… [Gender-neutral bathrooms] are helping the world become a better, more inclusive place.”
Allison Culver, a third-year veterinary medicine student, spoke in a virtual interview about her support for the bill.
“It’s very important to have [gender-neutral bathrooms] available to people,” she said.
Culver is president of the College of Veterinary Medicine Spectrum, an organization for Vet Med students who identify as part of the gender, romantic and sexual minoritized (GRSM) community and its allies. The organization uses GRSM instead of the LGBTQIA+ acronym.
Culver said a lack of gender-neutral bathrooms is a health and comfort issue, also noting that Iowa State does not have a lot of gender-neutral bathrooms, particularly in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I can only imagine if you’re a student and you’re in class and you have to run to the bathroom that you feel comfortable in … you can get sick from holding it too long,” she said. Culver added that Vet Med has only three gender-neutral bathrooms.
Clayburn also argued there are not enough gender-neutral bathrooms at Iowa State, especially in public spaces.
“I’m just hopeful that this bill will grab the attention of people, and hopefully, in the future, we have more of a prevalence of gender-neutral bathrooms,” he said.
White pointed out that while there are some gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, they are difficult to locate without looking them up. A list of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus is available by selecting “All-Gender Restrooms” on the MyState map.
Clayburn said overall, he is hopeful there will be more gender-neutral bathrooms at Iowa State in the future.
“At the end of the day, Iowa State University wants and needs this diversity, and having those bathrooms for everyone with that specific identity is going to have a more diverse and inclusive campus,” he said.