by Eric Wuestewald
On Monday, University of California President Janet Napolitano instructed the 10-campus school system to install gender-neutral restrooms to better accommodate LGBT individuals. The result is a huge victory for gay and transgendered students and employees who had been pushing for changes for over a year.
Under the changes, all existing single-stalls will be modified for all genders instead of a singular male or female designation. New and renovated buildings will also consider implementing single-stall restrooms in their development plans.
As the AP reports, many universities across the country have already begun the transition to gender-neutral bathrooms so that transgender individuals don't have to worry about being identified or harassed for their gender.
Monday's decision also allows students to change from their legal name to their preferred name on official records, so that identification cards, directories, and transcripts can properly reflect students who no longer identify with the names they were given at birth.
According to Pamela Brown, UC vice president of Institutional Research and Academic Planning, "This is an ongoing effort. Inclusiveness has always been an important value at UC. The establishment of a new advisory council ensures that we will continue to find ways and seek places where we can make improvements to the experiences of LGBT members of our community.”
President Napolitano added, “UC should be the gold standard where these issues are concerned. We want to look at not only what we are doing now, but also in the medium- and long-term for our students, our staff, our faculty, and the communities where our campuses are situated.”
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown also signed an innovative piece of legislation to define consent in California college sexual assault cases. The landmark development standardizes the practice of "affirmed consent," or ensuring fully voluntary and conscious agreement prior to any sexual activity. In other words, only yes means yes.
The law is the first its kind in the country, but advocates have already begun celebrating the law, so don't be surprised if it spreads. All in all, a good day for California schools.