Gender neutral signage back on the table for Md. single-occupancy public restrooms
MARYLAND – Lawmakers are taking another look at a bill concerning gender-neutral signage on single-occupancy, public bathrooms.
The bill was first introduced to the Maryland General Assembly in March of 2020, right before COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns started. It fell to the wayside as the legislature switched gears to focusing on COVID-19. But before that, the bill enjoyed strong, bipartisan support.
A similar ordinance passed in Salisbury in 2020. Salisbury City Council member Michele Gregory says the ordinance received a great deal of positive feedback, and is hoping to see it expanded on the state level. “It just makes uniform across the state, rather than having different municipalities making their own ordinances and wasting time on their own schedules, when they could be focusing on more local issues,” she said.
Now the bill has been reintroduced as House Bill 572. It would require single-occupancy, public bathrooms to be marked with signage that doesn’t have gender-specific language. Instead, the sign would have universally recognized symbols that simply represent a bathroom.
Gregory says that wouldn’t just help those who are transgender or non binary. Those living with disabilities who need assistance in the bathroom from some-one who is not the same gender, could also stand to benefit. “I take care of my adult son, who is disabled,” said Gregory. “If there’s a single stall, it’s difficult and people question.”
Making single-occupancy public bathrooms inclusive of everyone could also be a plus for businesses, according to Gregory. “They won’t have to think about how they label single [occupancy] bathrooms.” she said. “I think we’ve got to keep in mind that these are just going to be single use. These aren’t going to be units that multiple people are using at the same time.”
If the bill passes, it would go into effect on October 1st, 2022.