At tonight’s meeting, the Boynton Beach City Commission unanimously directed city staff to designate the single-occupancy restrooms in all city-owned properties as “Gender Neutral.”
Restrooms in the city’s Town Square project, which is expected to open this summer, also will be designated as gender neutral. Phase One of Town Square includes the new city hall and library, the police station, a fire station, a cultural center, and an amphitheater. Residential and retail spaces, as well as a hotel and parking garages, will be constructed later.
“Boynton Beach will be the first municipality in Palm Beach County to have gender neutral restrooms in all municipal properties.” said Boynton Beach City Commissioner Ty Penserga, who brought up discussion of all gender restroom s at tonight’s meeting.
Earlier this year, West Palm Beach installed gender-neutral restroom signs in the City Hall complex; however, that city has yet to expand their all gender restroom project to include any other municipal buildings.
Penserga initiated the discussion at the Boynton Beach City Commission meeting following a request made by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). PBCHRC is Florida’s oldest, independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
“Boynton Beach fosters an environment that values diversity,” said PBCHRC Board Member Rhonda Williams. “The designation of all gender restrooms will result in less hassle for people who don’t fit neatly into some people’s expectations of what it looks like to be male or female.
“Designating restrooms as all gender not only benefits people who do not identify as male or female, but also makes it easier for parents and caregivers to assist their opposite sex children, family members, and patients,” added Penserga.
“Transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, and intersex people often face prejudice, discrimination and humiliation in their everyday lives,” said PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch. “They deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else enjoys, in every area of their lives — including being able to use restrooms in which they feel comfortable.”
A 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 59% of transgender adults avoided using a public restroom out of fear of confrontation and 32% limited how much they ate or drank just to avoid using a public restroom.
According to a 2016 study published by The Williams Institute, an estimated 0.6% of adult Americans identify as transgender. With more than 100,000 transgender adults, Florida ranks sixth in the United States.
Palm Beach County also has been asked by PBCHRC to designate single-occupancy restrooms in county owned buildings as all gender. The county’s Director of Facilities Development & Operations has recommended the designation in a report to County Commissioners, who will consider her recommendation later this year.
Vermont, New Mexico, Illinois, and California, as well as in the cities of Austin, Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Hoboken, Miami Beach, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle and Washington, DC., have enacted laws mandating that single-occupancy toilets in public spaces be labeled gender-neutral. In addition, more than 200 colleges and universities throughout the United States also require gender neutral restrooms.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is Florida’s oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization
dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
We promote equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation, and community outreach. Over the years, PBCHRC has been responsible for the implementation of more than 135 laws and policies providing equal protections, rights, and benefits for the LGBTQ community.