Is Your Restroom Designated as “All-Gender?”

Effective March 1, 2017, California businesses as well as any establishment open to the public must designate existing single-user restroom facilities as “All-gender.”

Gender neutral restroom sign that says, GENDER NEUTRAL.

The new law, which adds Section 118600 to the California Health and Safety Code, provides that “All single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency shall be identified as all-gender toilet facilities…” It further clarifies that a single-user toilet facility “…means a toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user” and that such facilities shall be “Designated for use by no more than one occupant at a time or for family or assisted use.”

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Although AB 1732 is embraced by many Californians because it supports the right of transgender individuals to have equal access to public restroom facilities enjoyed by others, proponents of the bill point out that the new law also addresses the disproportionate burden that gender-segregated restrooms place “…on women, and parents or caretakers of dependents of the opposite gender.”  Under the law, for example, a female caretaker or nurse will be permitted to access a single-user facility with her male charge or patient, without fear of running afoul of the law.

Notably, AB 1732 is in line with California school districts, which currently permit students to use restroom facilities consistent with their gender identities, as well as the DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing) guidelines affecting California employers that were issued on February 17, 2016. The guidelines address the most frequently asked questions concerning transgender rights in the workplace and, among other things, provide that “an employer should provide an easily accessible unisex single stall bathroom for use by any employee who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.”

Author:  Rebecca L. Gombos, Esq