This report was written by Hatchet reporter Emily Scott.
Starbucks locations in D.C. are beginning to switch to gender neutral bathroom signs, in compliance with D.C. law. Marie McGrory | Hatchet Staff Photogpraher
Ffity-two Starbucks locations in the District will be replacing men’s and women’s bathroom signs with a gender-neutral restroom signs over the next month.
Starbucks coffee houses across D.C. are swapping their traditional bathroom signs to accommodate trans-gender customers, but because bathrooms in the Gelman Library Starbucks have multiple stalls per restrooms, bathrooms there will continue to be separated by gender.
Starbucks decided to change their policy at the end of September after five complaints were filed at the D.C. Office of Human Rights against Starbucks based on their gender-specific bathroom signs according to the D.C. OHR.
By changing the signs, Starbucks will be in compliance with regulations passed about four years ago after the Human Rights Act was amended to include gender identity.
Sadie-Ryanne Baker, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Trans Coalition, said that after the D.C. Council voted unanimously to add “gender identity and expression” as a protected class in the Act, “trans people and our allies helped draft enforcement regulations that spell out how this law affects businesses and individuals in the District.”
Even though the law required businesses to “allow individuals the right to use gender-specific restrooms and other gender-specific facilities…that are consistent with their gender identity or expression,” few establishments actually complied with the part of the law that says single occupancy restrooms must be labeled gender-neutral.
“I’m elated,” said senior Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride. “This is a huge victory for trans-gender individuals and the D.C. community. I tip my hat to Starbucks.”
Allied in Pride supports the bathroom law, as the organization has been lobbying for more gender-neutral policies, including those affecting housing on campus. Komo said he hopes that Starbucks will have a “domino effect” on other District establishments.
“There is no disadvantage to gender-neutral bathrooms,” Komo said. “People just need to be educated about gender identity. Once they become more aware, they will become more comfortable.”
Starbucks didn’t return request for comment.