Fifty posters have been put up on the entrances of certain Western University washrooms to raise awareness and promote gender inclusivity.
The posters state a simple message: “Western respects everyone’s right to choose a washroom appropriate for them. Trust the person using this space belongs here.”
Larissa Bartlett, director of Equity and Human Rights Services, said the posters don’t make the washrooms “genderless,” rather they are meant to say that anyone who wishes to use that space who identifies as a man or woman are free to. She said the posters are meant to make community members feel safer and more comfortable using washrooms of their choice on campus.
Bartlett notes the initiative began after receiving concerns and feedback from community members on campus, with suggestions to put up signs telling people not to question other people using the facilities.
The posters are made possible due to a grant from the president's committee on the safety of women on campus at Western.
“It’s a shift in thinking about washrooms, from who can use them to what they’re used for,” Bartlett said.
Posters have been placed on multi-user, high-traffic washrooms. Locations include the University Community Centre, Weldon Library, Somerville House, Middlesex College and more.
Since putting up the posters, Bartlett has received about 30 more requests to put up posters on other washrooms on campus.
Bartlett said Western has over 600 washrooms, and for some, choosing a washroom isn't an easy decision.
"One should be able to use the facilities that they are most comfortable in, regardless of signage. This is just an awareness piece on some washroom doors," Bartlett said.