Mayor Walsh signs executive order establishing gender neutral restrooms in City Hall
June 11, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today signed an executive order immediately establishing gender-neutral restrooms on the fifth floor of Boston City Hall, outside of the Mayor’s Office and City Council Chamber. Boston is among the first city halls to institute gender-neutral restrooms in New England.
“Today marks a historic moment in Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “Boston thrives on diversity, and is an inclusive city. This change will foster a safe and welcoming environment for employees and visitors, and will go a long way as we continue to work towards improving the lives of those who love and call Boston home.”
Gender neutral bathrooms benefit a variety of individuals who are not comfortable when accessing gender-specific bathrooms. Providing access to a private, non-gendered stall can reduce or eliminate this negative experience. Gender neutral bathrooms also benefit members of the disabled community or others who have personal attendants of a different gender. Parents or guardians with children of a different gender can also experience misunderstanding when accessing gender-specific bathrooms.
This change will reduce and eliminate these unpleasant experiences, creating a positive effect for employees and visitors of City Hall.
The Office of Neighborhood Services will continue to engage and support members of the LGBT, disability and gender-nonconforming communities by ensuring that they are aware of the gender neutral restrooms. The City of Boston’s Property Management Department has created new signage, which will also be in braille, rendering the single restrooms gender neutral, and the restrooms are now open to everyone.
Statements of Support:
“Mayor Walsh’s announcement today is an important step forward in the fight for equality, and I support his effort to accommodate transgender people at City Hall. My office has also put in place a robust policy that offers explicit protections against gender-identity discrimination to both our staff and members of the public who visit our office. For all of us who are employers in Massachusetts, a real commitment to preventing discrimination starts in our own workplaces, and I hope employers across the state will join in these efforts to promote equal treatment for all. I also hope the Legislature will pass the transgender accommodations bill this session.” - Attorney General Maura Healey
"As a staff member in the Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities and a member of the LGBT community the creation of these restrooms allows for friends, family, colleagues, and allies to feel comfortable visiting City Hall and participating in City government." -Jessica Doonan, Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities
"In addition to serving our LGBT members of the disability community, these restrooms allow for individuals with disabilities who require assistance of another person to use these facilities with ease." -Commissioner Kristen McCosh, Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities
"These gender neutral bathrooms mark a welcoming and supportive space for City Hall employees and visitors to use the facility and feel safe regardless of gender expression or gender identity. I am proud and honored to work for a Mayor who has a strong desire in making our City Hall accommodating and accessible for everyone equally. Excited to continue working alongside all our local LGBT organizations and the great work they do on a daily basis for the community. What a fabulous announcement during this, the 45th anniversary of Boston Pride in our City!" - Jullieanne Doherty, LGBT Liaison, Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services
"Gender neutral bathrooms are important in providing a safe place for all people to use the facilities when needed without fear of harassment by others. Providing gender neutral bathrooms send the clear message that all people are valued and invited to take part in the community.” - Ruben Hopwood, MDiv, PhD, Coordinator, Transgender Health Program, Fenway Health
"Knowing the incredibly high rates of harassment and violence trans and gender non-conforming folks in my community face, installing a gender neutral restroom in City Hall is an important step forward for employees and visitors. Hopefully the precedent set by City Hall will encourage other government buildings to create accessible spaces for trans people, as well as continue the momentum here in Boston for additional protections under the law." - Rylee Hollett, Jamaica Plain Resident
"Boston Pride is #WickedProud of Mayor Walsh's taking the bold step to make bathrooms gender-neutral at City Hall. Not only is this a huge step forward toward full inclusion, respect, and understanding of trans* members of our community, but it is also a genuine opportunity to educate the public at large as to how we can all be welcoming of transgender people. We applaud Mayor Walsh's decision, which reflects great leadership and places Boston at the forefront of equality worldwide." - Sylvain Bruni, President of Boston Pride
“Boston is well known as ‘The Cradle of Liberty,’ and for nearly 400 years Boston has led the way in providing equal human rights for all of its citizens. Over 5 years ago, on May 5, 2010, The Boston City Council passed a Unanimous Resolution In Support of An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes (S. 1687/H.1728). Because the Massachusetts Legislature has still not passed this important Human Rights Bill, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is today taking a very courageous and important action by making two restrooms in Boston City Hall Transgender Inclusive. This is a major step forward in providing Equal Human Rights for Transgender people. Mayor Walsh is sending the strongest possible message to the Massachusetts Legislature to pass the Public Accommodations Bill in 2015. On behalf of all Transgender people in Massachusetts I thank Mayor Marty Walsh for his outstanding leadership.” - Erica Kay Webster, Founder, CEO and President, Foundation For International Justice, Inc., CEO and Executive Director, Promise Place School
"Greater Boston PFLAG wants to honor and thank Mayor Walsh and his team for making Boston City Hall a more welcoming place for transgender and gender non-confirming individuals. As an organization, Greater Boston PFLAG works to help environments be welcoming, affirming, and safe for LGBTQ people and we are proud of Boston City Hall for taking this important step. There is still a lot of work to be done---currently transgender people in Massachusetts don't have their freedoms legally protected in public spaces. We value public safety for everyone, and for this reason we are also working to pass legislation that protects transgender people in public spaces throughout our state." - Tom Bourdon, Executive Director, Greater Boston PFLAG
“Based on the results from our 2013 transgender health and discrimination needs assessment of Massachusetts adults, we found that the majority (65 percent) had experienced some form of discrimination in public settings within the prior year. A 2011 national survey data suggest the majority (70 percent) of U.S. transgender people sampled experienced verbal harassment, assault, or were denied access to public restrooms. Furthermore both studies found associations between experiencing discrimination and negative health outcomes, so the Mayor's Office is taking an incredibly responsible step in protecting transgender people from violence as well as supporting the health of transgender communities.” -Emilia Dunham, Project Manager, The Fenway Institute of the Life Skills Project
"We appreciate Mayor Walsh's continued efforts to make Boston a welcoming city for all. The need for this executive order is a reminder that in Massachusetts it's legal to discriminate against transgender people in public accommodations, which are restaurants, hotels, the MBTA and all the other places where we spend our days when we're not at home, work or school. We urge the legislature to pass pending legislation that would outlaw this discrimination statewide. While public spaces are so much more than restrooms, and while pending legislation would not require businesses to reconfigure their restrooms. We applaud Mayor Walsh for going beyond basic nondiscrimination protections to create a safe and welcoming City Hall for all." - Mason Dunn, Executive Director, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition