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New law requires some Philadelphia businesses to turn restrooms gender-neutral

If restaurants and bars have single-occupancy restrooms then they will no longer be gender-specific; law was proposed by Office of LGBT Affairs

New law requires some Philadelphia businesses to turn restrooms gender-neutral
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Mayor Nutter signs the gender-neutral restroom bill into law in Fergie's Pub, Philadelphia

Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia signed a new law yesterday that orders restaurants and bars with single occupancy restrooms to make those restrooms gender-neutral.

The law was proposed by the Office of LGBT Affairs and was coincidentally signed into law on the eve of transgender day of remembrance.

A spokesperson for the office said that the law had come about because many members of the transgender community had expressed anxiety about being made to choose between gender-specific restrooms.

‘Providing access to a private, non-gendered, all-inclusive bathroom can simply reduce the stress of using the restroom,’ said Nellie Fitzpatrick, Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, to KYW Newsradio.

Signing the law at a ceremony at Fergie’s Pub on Sansom Street, Mayor Nutter, in jocular fashion, said that the law did not apply to restrooms with multiple stalls.

‘Multi-occupant bathroom facilities – it just really doesn’t sound like something you want to be part of – can remain gender-specific,’ reported CBS.

He also said that the law change would help families and the elderly who may need help using restrooms. Some businesses, such as Starbucks, already tend to have gender-neutral single stall restrooms.

Jim Kenney, the Mayor-Elect of Philadelphia, has also voiced support for the law, saying that the bill is ‘about human dignity’.

Fitzpatrick told the PhillyMag that the decision to host the signing at Fergie’s was strategic. The traditional Irish pub is within the city’s ‘gayborhood’ but attracts a predominantly non-LGBT clientele,

‘It was important that something like this happen in a space that maybe would have never taken a step to have safe, accessible bathrooms for all genders.

‘Usually, we wouldn’t think of trans-identified people flocking to Fergie’s, and that’s the juxtaposition, that a pub like this is proud to host this event and change these signs.’

The law will take effect from 16 January 2016. Any establishments that don’t comply can be reported via social media using the #freetophl hashtag.


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