Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet

Why All Gender Restrooms Matter

Why All Gender Restrooms (and Associated ADA Signage) Matter

Answering top questions about Bathroom Bills, unisex bathrooms, and braille signage pictogram options.

What is an All Gender Bathroom?

Sustinable Office Sign - All Are Welcome Here

All gender, gender neutral, and unisex restrooms can by used by anyone. In the last decade, the quantity of all gender restrooms has significantly increased. This change in bathroom regulation and identification recognizes transgender, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming individuals. It also benefits families with children and those with disabilities who may need assistance from a differently-gendered caretaker. Unsurprisingly, even a short amount of time has shown that gender neutral restrooms signal a positive, non-discriminatory environment and create a more welcoming atmosphere.

Which States have Bathroom Bills?

As of June 2018, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus Washington, D.C.) had adopted laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Additionally, more than 200 municipalities had adopted similar local ordinances.

Bathroom Bills usually require public single-user toilet facilities to be identified as all gender. Additionally, there are often specific building code considerations for bathrooms in workplaces, educational institutions, and other public facilities. While all gender or unisex restrooms are mostly single-stall, multi-stall unisex bathrooms also exist. Multi-user restrooms are often more space and cost-efficient to build and maintain. Bathroom considerations go far beyond signage, including design components such as stall wall and door height and urinal inclusion.

The below Wikipedia map summarizes existing state and municipal unisex restroom mandates. Online national and local resources detail specific U.S. Bathroom bill laws. Local building inspectors can also answer regulation questions.

Map of US states and cities who mandate single-user public facilities to be all-gender
By RobbgodshawOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Where have All Gender Bathroom Laws Recently Changed?

  • The U.S. Supreme Court announced in August 2019 that it will hear three appeals cases surrounding homosexual and transgender discrimination in employment. Specifically, the Court is considering if “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In August 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a brief arguing that gender identity cannot reasonably be read into civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. DOJ stated that it is up to Congress to decide whether or not “gender identity” should be added to the Civil Rights Act Title VII.
  • In July 2019, a federal judge in North Carolina approved a consent decree that secures the right of transgender individuals to use bathrooms that match their gender identities in public buildings. Controversy in North Carolina received national attention and was expected to have a negative impact on the state’s economy.
  • As of January 1, 2020, all single-occupancy public restrooms in Illinois must be designated as gender neutral. The Illinois legislature overwhelmingly approved the “Equitable Restrooms Act” in the Spring and Governor Pritzker signed the law in July 2019.

Which Unisex Image Should All Gender Restroom Signs Include?

Restrooms are not technically required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to contain a pictogram. However, pictograms are highly recommended for restrooms because they facilitate quick identification and guide non-English speakers. Bathrooms signs are required to comply with ADA character and braille requirements. Facilities that are wheelchair-accessible should be identified with the traditional or active International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) or person in a wheelchair pictogram.

Unless specified by local regulations, the pictogram used to identify an all gender restroom is variable. Here are some options to consider:

1. Traditionally, a hybrid half-female, half-male symbol has been used to mark unisex bathrooms. However, this image reinforces gender as binary.

Green Dot Sign - Most common All Gender Restroom Sign

2. A female and male pictogram is also quite common for gender neutral restrooms. While this image clearly indicates that a facility can be used by either gender, it does not specifically address transgender individuals.

Green Dot Sign - Gender Neutral Restroom Sign

3. More recently, the transgender symbol has also been used for single-stall bathroom identification. However, this symbol may not be universally recognized.

Green Dot Sign - TransGender Sign

4. Surveys have found that those who use all unisex bathrooms prefer ADA signage with a toilet pictogram. This image communicates a room’s purpose and does not place assumptions around users’ identity.

Restroom Sign with Toliet - Green Dot Sign


California Specifics

Californians will recognize that our rectangular bathroom signs do not look like the required circle and triangle signs you are used to seeing. Green Dot Sign will have California-specific bathroom door signs available soon!

In Closing, It’s Good To Be Welcoming

If you operate a public facility, school, or place of work in a geography subject to all gender or Bathroom bill requirements, select signage with a pictogram that complies with code and aligns with your branding. If your jurisdiction does not require unisex restroom identification, it is still worth considering. Creating a welcoming environment drives greater staff engagement and valuable customer conversions.