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Single-Occupancy Restroom Ordinance

All Single-Occupancy Restrooms in Tacoma Need to be Labeled as Gender Neutral 

Tacoma Municipal Code Chapter 1.29 requires all single-occupancy restrooms, existing or new, in businesses in Tacoma city limits be labeled as Gender Neutral as of June 1, 2019.  Single-occupancy restrooms benefit many people, including transgender, non-binary, male, female, disabled, people who require the assistance of a caregiver of a different gender, and parents with children of a different gender. 

 

Examples of Acceptable Signage

 

Photo of Gender Neutral Restroom SignPhoto of All-Gender Restroom Sign

 

Ordinance Intended to Address the Needs and Rights of Individuals Who Identify as Transgender and Non-Binary 

The requirement for gender neutral single-occupancy restroom signage is intended to address the needs and rights of individuals who identify as transgender and non-binary and remove institutional and systematic barriers to accessing public spaces. 

 

Those who identify as transgender or non-binary often experience harassment, intimidation, refusal of access, and in some cases, violence, when trying to use public restrooms and other gender-specific facilities consistent with their gender identities.

 

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, more than half of people who identify as transgender have avoided using restrooms while in public because they did not want to engage in confrontations. These experiences can sometimes lead to significant health problems from avoiding using public restrooms throughout the day. 

 

Glossary of Terms

 

Gender Inclusive: Providing access to people who identify as any gender.

 

Gender Neutral: Common to both male, female, and non-binary.

 

Non-Binary: Any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary. 

 

Transgender: A person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. 

 

Single Occupancy Restroom: Any toileting facility that is designed for use and can be used only by a single individual at a time and/or by a single individual assisted by another individual. 

 

Public Place or Place of Public Accommodation: Any place where the public can gather or go, including venues such as hotels, restaurants, bars, public restrooms, elevators, shops and other retail establishments, theaters and cinemas, concert halls, sports stadiums, government buildings, etc.

 

Reporting and Enforcement-Ordinance Goes Into Effect June 1, 2019

If there is a public place that has not labeled their signage to match the images above for their single-occupancy restroom after June 1, 2019, report a concern by calling us at 311 or (253) 591-5000. Please provide a photo, the location, date and time that the sign was viewed.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Tacoma City Council adopt an ordinance that requires gender inclusive labeling of single-occupancy restrooms?

The City of Tacoma is committed to equity and human rights, in alignment with those principals, the City adopted requirements for gender-inclusive labeling of single-occupancy restrooms.

 

The requirement is intended to address the needs and rights of individuals who identify as transgender and non-binary and remove institutional and systematic barriers to accessing public spaces.

Who is required to follow the labeling requirement?

Any business that has a “single-occupant public restroom”, meaning any toileting facility that is designed for use and can be used only by a single individual at a time and/or by a single individual assisted by another individual, located in a facility of the City, a facility of a taxing district located in Tacoma, or a place of public accommodations in the City as defined by Tacoma Municipal Code 1.29.040.

What will the signs look like and say?

Entities covered by this ordinance shall replace existing restrictive-gender-use signage (showing the bathroom is only to be used by a male or female) for single-occupant public restrooms with signage indicating that such restrooms can be used by any person, regardless of sex or gender identity.  Examples of appropriate signage would include “washroom,” “restroom,” “all gender restroom,” “gender-neutral restroom,” or “unisex,” and/or that images or symbols to indicating that the all single-occupant restrooms are designated for use by any person, regardless of sex or gender identity.

 

Photo of Gender Neutral Restroom SignPhoto of All-Gender Restroom Sign

When does the requirement take effect?

The requirement to use gender-inclusive labeling on all existing and new single-occupancy restrooms will take effect June 1, 2019.

How does someone report a violation of the ordinance?

Violations of the Inclusive-Gender Labeling of Single-Occupancy Restrooms can be reported by calling 311 or by going online to cityoftacoma.org/TacomaFIRST.

What happens if an organization or business does not comply?

Organizations or businesses who are not in compliance by June 1, 2019 and after will be subject to penalties as pursuant to Tacoma Municipal Code Chapter 1.82.

Will this ordinance impact multi-stall restrooms in Tacoma?

No, this ordinance only applies to single-occupancy restrooms. Multi-stall restrooms in Tacoma can be labeled with male and female specific signage.

Must I remove gender-specific artwork (that is used for signage)?

Yes, single-occupancy restrooms must not be restricted to use by a single gender.

What if a business posts offensive or derogatory restroom signage?

Any signs that are offensive or derogatory that is based on someone’s protected class (sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, etc.) may violate public accommodation discrimination laws. Please contact the Office of Equity and Human Rights to report this by calling 311 or (253) 591-5000.