In the past two years, students have led the charge to create more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Now, they’ve created an interactive map that allows members of the Duke community to more easily find these restrooms. 

Duke Student Government, Blue Devils United and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity teamed up to produce the map, which can be found on the CSGD website. The website includes an updated list of the gender-neutral bathrooms on each campus and the buildings they are located in. 

“We all have to use the restroom, and because restrooms in this country are gendered along the binary, people who don't identify along the binary don't feel as comfortable going into gender-binary restrooms,” said junior Adam Bullock, DSG director of LGBTQIA affairs and policy.

Bullock got involved in the efforts in 2016 when DSG and BDU worked to place gender-neutral signage on single-occupancy restrooms across campus. As part of the project, the Facilities Management department asked the students to submit a list of all the single-occupancy bathrooms they could find on campus. 

“Every time we found one, we would add it to a spreadsheet with its building and location,” Bullock said. “We would denote whether signage was neutral or gendered.” 

They identified about 100 of these around campus and submitted the list to facilities management, which is working on converting them all to gender-neutral.

The spreadsheet turned out to be an asset when DSG and BDU had the idea to create an interactive using Google Maps to better assist students in finding these restrooms. 

Sophomore Ivan Robles, a DSG senator for equity and outreach, explained that DSG used the data they had already collected to design the map, which has one pin for each building with gender-inclusive restrooms. 

If you click on the pin, it will have the room number and floor where the bathroom is located. There are currently about 94 gender-inclusive restrooms on campus. 

“I wanted to take the public list of the gender-inclusive restrooms and make it more visual and interactive,” Robles said. 

Bullock noted that he has also used the prototype to determine the distances that people would have to walk to get to a building with a gender-inclusive restroom from a building without one. For instance, the Sanford building doesn’t have a gender-inclusive restroom, so students have to go to Rubenstein Hall instead. 

This information was used in meetings with administrators to emphasize the importance of continued work to increase the number of gender-neutral bathrooms. 

“We showed that people were going to have to leave buildings to get to a restroom,” Bullock said. 

Robles noted that these presentations also included testimonies from students that they received about the benefits of gender-inclusive restrooms as well as information about similar efforts at peer institutions. 

“It was our method of showing spatially where everything was,” he said. “We were trying to convey that a student shouldn’t have to leave a building and walk x distance to use a bathroom that they are comfortable with.”

In the future, Bullock said he hopes to focus his efforts on the Sanford building and is working with administrators there to make their facilities more accessible and inclusive. He hopes to create a gender-inclusive multi-stall restroom there, instead of just a single-occupancy one. 

“It would just be a sign change, but the people who make those decisions see a lot more involved with that,” he said. 

Robles noted that he would also like to assemble another group of students to walk around campus and map the bathrooms to get a more updated count. 

He stressed the importance of having adequate facilities for students at Duke who are gender nonconforming. 

“There’s all this talk of wanting to make campus more equitable and diverse which is great, but we should also make sure there are resources available for this diversity,” he said.