AdaCamp was a two-day unconference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture. This page is part of the AdaCamp Toolkit, which helps you take AdaCamp’s tools and practices and apply them to your own event. You can re-use the text of this page under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license with credit to the AdaCamp Toolkit.
AdaCamps provided a gender neutral restroom for attendees. A gender neutral restroom is for attendees who do not feel comfortable choosing between binary-gendered restrooms, attendees who have experienced harassment or abuse in the past for being in a binary-gendered restroom, and all other attendees.
Sample description of gender neutral restrooms for attendees
Use wording like the following in your attendee information:
EVENT provides a gender neutral restroom for all attendees at LOCATION accessed by [directions including any stairs or lifts]. The restroom will have a SIGN DESCRIPTION sign at the entrance: SIGN GRAPHIC.
[If the gender neutral restroom has urinals installed:] Please do not use the urinals during EVENT.
EVENT also provides other restrooms, including a women’s restroom at LOCATION accessed by [directions including any stairs or lifts] and a men’s rest room at LOCATION accessed by [directions including any stairs or lifts].
Options for gender-neutral restrooms include:
- best case: use one or more existing, accessible, gender-neutral restrooms in your venue
- use a single-occupancy restroom and re-sign it
- use a multi-occupancy restroom and re-sign it
At least one gender-neutral restroom should be wheel accessible.
How to re-sign a restroom
- print large (at least letter sized) signs that have the words “Gender neutral restroom” on them, and optionally a visual gender neutral logo, and and place them over any gender markings on the door
- if there are urinals in the restroom, add one or more signs to the urinals marked “do not use urinals during EVENT”
- place any additional directions to the restroom in the venue as necessary
If you intend your event to be accessible to Braille users, add Braille signage to these signs and any others.
There is no one agreed gender neutral logo. Avoid any suggestion of there only being two genders, eg avoid the AIGA unisex symbol depicting a icon of a woman and a man.
Check your gender-neutral restroom against any women’s and men’s restrooms and make sure matching facilities are provided. For example, you may wish to provide:
- trash cans
- free tampons and pads
- disposal containers for tampons and pads
Problems you may run into
- some venues do not allow re-signing of restrooms, particularly if it means that one binary gender no longer has a dedicated restroom
- many venues that are allowing you non-exclusive use of their space will not allow you to re-sign a restroom as they fear other events or their own employees (eg, people working in the office on unrelated tasks during your event) will object
- if your venue contact is anyone other than the head of facilities, and you have no written agreement about re-signing bathrooms, the head of facilities may overrule your right to re-sign at any point, including during the event (this happened at AdaCamp DC!)
- regulatory requirements for a minimum number of specifically allocated women’s and men’s stalls
- make availability of gender-neutral restrooms or the ability to re-sign restrooms a condition of choosing a venue
- actively inform your potential venues that providing a gender neutral restroom to attendees is a non-negotiable requirement
- tour the venue and specifically note the restrooms available for potential re-signing before booking, looking for single-occupancy rooms, or binary-gendered restrooms in excess of your expected attendance (at AdaCamp, we looked for men’s rooms)
- if you are going to need to re-sign a restroom, specifically include the ability to re-sign a particular restroom in your venue contract
- have your venue contract to hand in the lead-up to the event, so that you can confirm with anyone trying to overrule you that the venue agreed to the re-signing
- research any regulatory requirements in advance, and if they absolutely prohibit the provision of gender-neutral bathrooms at your event, disclose this to your attendees when you open for registration
- English Wikipedia, Listing of gender symbols
- Samuel Killermann, Solution for the “Confusing” Gender Neutral Toilet Sign Issue