IVCC Grapples With Bathroom Sinage

Liza Buhr, Sports Co-Editor

Editors Note: Signs were installed March 3 and 4 after this article was released.

Although Illinois’ new Equitable Restrooms Act went into effect Jan. 1, IVCC has not yet placed new signage on its single-occupancy bathrooms. College officials are aware of the law, which was signed in July 2019, and plan to take action soon.

“On Dec. 11, the Operations Committee discussed new signage for the single-occupancy restrooms pursuant to Public Act 101-0165,” said Vice President of Business Services and Finance Cheryl Roelfsema.

“The consensus was a sign with the toilet symbol, a wheelchair, where appropriate, the word ‘Restroom’ and also braille for restroom. Our facilities staff has looked for such a sign but with no luck.”

Some feel that the college has taken too long to comply with this law.

“While I can only speak for myself, I am disappointed that the administrative leadership responsible for overseeing these updates did not respond to multiple requests to meet the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline,” English Professor Tracy Lee stated.

Lee expressed that IVCC strives to be an inclusive environment to all.

“One of the academic goals in IVCC’s 2017-2020 Academic Plan states that IVCC will ‘Model the values of diversity and inclusion in the classroom and across campus,’’’ Lee said.

Although the facilities staff claims to not have found suitable signage, other members of IVCC faculty and staff have found bathroom signage that meets the Operations Committee’s consensus for only $35. Some staff members are questioning why action still has not been taken.

As a public college, IVCC is required by the state of Illinois to now indicate that all single-occupancy restrooms are gender neutral.

The law itself states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, every single-occupancy restroom in a place of public accommodation or public building shall be identified as all-gender and designated for use by no more than one person at a time or for family or assisted use. Each single-occupancy restroom shall be outfitted with exterior signage that marks the single-occupancy restroom as a restroom and does not indicate any specific gender.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will draft a list of requirements and standards for these single-occupancy bathroom signs, according to the law. However, no information about the exact requirements has been released yet. Attempts to reach the IDPH before press time were not successful.

Roelfsema said IVCC continues to work
on the signage.

“On Feb. 12 when the committee meets again, we will attempt to decide on a new sign,” Roelfsema stated. “Once a sign is decided upon, they will be ordered and installed as quickly as our maintenance staff is able to do so.

“Although we have been advised by our architect and the LaSalle County health department that the signs we now have are compliant, the goal of the Operations Committee is to make a change that reflects sensitivity and compassion for everyone that passes through our buildings.” Some staff members have been informed that changes will be made to comply with the law as soon as signs are found.

“The current signs with male and female figures exclude non-binary and otherwise gender non-conforming individuals,” Lee said.

“After unnecessary delay, I’m happy to hear the upper administrative leadership plan to comply with the language and spirit of this law, but I am only cautiously optimistic that new signs will, in fact, be installed with deserved urgency.

“Ultimately, promises aren’t enough as this issue was largely dismissed after being brought to the attention of those in charge some time ago. I see no excuse to have missed the Jan. 1 state deadline. This is an opportunity to set a positive example in the state by doing what is right. The LBGTQ+
community deserves more from us.”

With single-occupancy bathrooms scattered around campus, students and staff are awaiting the implementation of this new law.