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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 6, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 01
All-gender restrooms to come to Cal Anderson Park this year
Section One
ALL STORIES
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All-gender restrooms to come to Cal Anderson Park this year

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Seattle Parks and Recreation officials will oversee the construction of all-gender, all-ability restrooms at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. The project, they say, will be a model for the implementation of such restrooms throughout Seattle parks.

The plans to redo the park's bathrooms as an all-gender and mobility-friendly facility are awaiting approval from the city's Department of Construction and Inspections. Parks officials say the project will be paired with infrastructure upgrades to Cal Anderson's fountain.

The restroom plans describe them as four single-occupancy, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant restrooms with doors opening from the exterior into each individual restroom.

According to the parks department, direct-entry stalls are the safest, most inclusive option.

'This configuration, with the door opening from the exterior directly into the restroom as well as other best-practices concepts, has been determined to provide a more safe and welcoming private use of public restroom for the transgender and gender-nonconforming community, as well as serving caretakers of different genders and family use,' said Young Architecture, the firm hired by the parks department for the project.

In 2016 Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, based on recommendations from the city's LGBT Task Force, signed an executive order to commission a study of Cal Anderson's facilities, with the possibility of implementing all-gender restrooms in mind. The task force, which was convened for LGBT safety recommendations, advised the mayor's office that making the restrooms all-gender would better serve Seattle's robust Transgender community, as well as cut down on crime, such as the illegal drug consumption that takes place in and around the facilities on a daily basis.

The study found that Transgender and gender-nonconforming people face harassment, verbal attacks, crime, and violence in gendered restrooms. In addition, data show that semi-private spaces increase stress and that segregated restrooms make it difficult for Transgender folks to participate in society.

The Transgender community was consulted along the way, as were other groups throughout Seattle and other cities, to reach the recommendation to remodel the multi-stall gendered restrooms into four separate direct-entry restrooms with sinks and toilets that also meet ADA requirements.

Other improvements - including changes to the community meeting building's exterior and the lighting right outside of the building - are likely to happen too, say officials. And if funding allows, the parks department will widen the path from E. Olive St. to the park's wading pool to make it ADA accessible as well. Parks officials say that that portion of the project would require approval from the Landmarks Preservation Board.

The only downside to all of is that construction could mean another summer of fences blocking off portions of the park.

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