UNC Charlotte to add more gender-neutral restrooms

Published: Feb. 25, 2016 at 2:43 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 26, 2016 at 1:43 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - UNC Charlotte (UNCC) wants to have gender-neutral restroom facilities in every academic building on campus.

"It is definitely a safe place for people who are early in their transition or don't feel comfortable in either bathroom," said Justine Matlock, who identifies herself as a trans-woman who just graduated from UNCC.

More than a year ago, the University's Campus Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended that students be able to use campus restrooms of the gender they self identify with.

University officials started creating gender-neutral facilities called Family Style Accessible Unisex Restrooms. School officials said the restrooms are for "transgender individuals, families, and individuals with disabilities."

Only one person can use it at a time, and each door locks from inside.

"It gives atypical student mothers a place to breastfeed their kid or it gives handicap people a place where they can use the bathroom comfortably," Matlock said. "It gives trans people a place where we don't have to worry about being assaulted."

The University first created an accessible unisex restroom back in the fall semester of 2014. School officials say – and have said for years – they want to "make the campus more inclusive and safer for all students."

University officials said they're not aware of any complaints. The school is planning construction for more unisex restrooms.

"I actually did not know our school had it," said Harrison Mull, a junior at UNCC.

Mull said he has concerns about Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance. He didn't know his own campus has gender-neutral facilities.

"If there's a registered one then I think that's more acceptable than if you can go in either one of it," he said.

Matlock told WBTV she was attacked in restrooms before. She says none of the assaults happened on campus, but she feels like neutral restrooms were needed.

"Regardless of whatever bathroom choice we make, we're still putting ourselves in danger - could you imagine me in the men's restroom? It would be a fiasco," she said.

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