County Council Unanimously Approves Legislation to Establish Gender Inclusive Restrooms in Public and County Facilities

by Patrick Herron

“This bill is supported by many advocacy groups including those representing the disability community and the LGBTQ+ community,” said Councilmember Katz, who also serves as chair of the Public Safety Committee. “It is well reasoned, will not be burdensome to implement and will help everyone feel more comfortable.”

Bill 4-22, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Public Accommodations – Gender Inclusive Restrooms, aims to increase accessibility for anyone to use a single-user restroom, regardless of gender, gender identity, or expression. Existing law allowed an owner of a business or County-owned building to restrict single-occupancy restrooms to a specific gender.

“We want everyone in Montgomery County to feel welcome here,” said Council Vice President Glass, Montgomery County’s first LGBTQ+ Councilmember. “Members of our trans, nonbinary and disability communities often feel anxious and ignored by the choices of restrooms in commercial spaces. This legislation will help provide ease and comfort to them and everyone.”

This bill would benefit people with disabilities, who have caregivers of a different gender, or parents with children of a different gender, who may require assistance using a public restroom. It would also help to decrease barriers, encourage full community inclusion and strengthen dignity and personal safety.

During public hearing testimony on this bill, Montgomery County activist Ezra Towne said, “As a person with disabilities that sometimes needs assistance in the bathroom, gendered single occupancy stalls are stressful for both my spouse and I because we are perceived as differently gendered than one another.”

Other jurisdictions in Maryland and across the nation have successfully implemented similar legislation, including the City of Salisbury, Baltimore City and Howard County in Maryland; the City of Seattle in Washington; California; Austin City in Texas; and the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

The Council staff report on the bill can be viewed here.

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