Opinion: NYU’s all-gender bathroom list is outdated and incomplete

Transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming students have been left in the dark about where they can find a safe restroom at NYU.


Arnav Binaykia

NYU needs more all-gender restrooms. (Arnav Binaykia for WSN)

Molly Koch, Deputy Opinion Editor

NYU prides itself on promoting diversity, but the university often falls short in putting its goals into practice. Despite its much-trumpeted commitment to inclusivity, by the university’s own documentation, it only has 37 buildings with all-gender bathrooms, across the 100-plus buildings it operates in New York City. NYU needs to provide accurate and updated information about all-gender bathrooms on its campus in order to ensure that every student has easy access to the restroom that aligns most with their gender identity.

All-gender bathrooms are a crucial component of gender inclusivity, allowing individuals of any gender identity or expression to use the restroom without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence. In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of all-gender bathrooms across the country since cities passed legislation dictating that public single-stall restrooms must be labeled as all-gender, thanks to the efforts of LGBTQ+ activists and advocacy groups. Many institutions, including NYU, created lists of all-gender restrooms available for use in their academic spaces and workplaces. But that progress has halted — at NYU, the list does not appear to have prioritized keeping their lists updated.

NYU’s list of all-gender bathrooms, posted on its website, was a positive step towards inclusivity, but it hasn’t been updated in nearly six years — the last change was made in 2017. The list is outdated and incomplete: it only includes two bathrooms on the Tandon campus, and does not include the brand-new Paulson Center, which opened earlier this year with a number of all-gender bathrooms. NYU’s global campuses are also nowhere to be found. This lack of accurate and comprehensive information can cause confusion and frustration for students, faculty and staff.

Even in buildings that provide all-gender bathrooms, they are difficult to access, and suffer from a lack of signage. Bobst Library, for instance, has all-gender bathrooms in the basement and on the fifth floor, but there are no physical signs posted elsewhere in the building. or near other bathrooms, to tell you where they are.

Being forced to use a bathroom that does not align with your gender identity can be a huge contributor to feelings of gender dysphoria. While many might not think twice about which bathroom they choose to use, for others, the choice is a daily disaffirmation of their identity, one that can cause negative psychological effects.

Without accurate and up-to-date information, students who require all-gender bathrooms are forced to spend time and energy searching for a restroom that meets their needs. This can be especially challenging for new students or visitors to the university who may not be familiar with the campus layout. People may also face a hostile reaction if they use a bathroom that does not align with their gender expression.

NYU’s failure to update its all-gender bathroom information is not only a disservice to members of its community, but it also sends a message that the university is not fully committed to inclusivity. This lack of commitment can be detrimental to the well-being of students, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+. Research shows that LGBTQ+ students are at a higher risk of experiencing harassment, violence and mental health issues than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. The university is failing to address the unique needs of its LGBTQ+ population and contributing to the marginalization and stigmatization of these students.

The university should conduct an audit of all restrooms on its campuses to identify which ones are currently gender-neutral, and which ones can be converted into gender-neutral facilities. NYU should then update its website and campus maps to reflect this information. It’s an easy way for NYU to translate its voiced commitment to inclusivity into action.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].