SGA Senate passes gender-neutral restroom bill

On Nov. 4, the University of Tennessee’s Student Government Association held a Senate meeting that voted to pass a bill regarding the implementation of gender-neutral restrooms across campus, Bill 03-15.

From left to right: Sophomore Klay Brooks, Senior Robin Lovett, and Sophomore Thomas Tran express their support for the 03-15 bill.

From left to right: Sophomore Klay Brooks, Senior Robin Lovett, and Sophomore Thomas Tran express their support for the 03-15 bill.
From left to right: Sophomore Klay Brooks, Senior Robin Lovett, and Sophomore Thomas Tran express their support for the 03-15 bill.

On Nov. 4, the University of Tennessee’s Student Government Association held a Senate meeting that voted to pass a bill regarding the implementation of gender-neutral restrooms across campus, Bill 03-15.

The Senate voted in favor of the bill, with 47 voting Yes, 10 voting No and 12 abstentions.

The session began as Student Body President Kelsey Keny, President of Senate Connor Dugosh and Student Service Director Katelyn Hadder made a few opening comments.

Quickly, the focus turned to the bill proposing that nearly every building on UT campus should have a gender–neutral bathroom accessible to all.

This bill was originally backed by the LGBT community but is now gaining momentum with other groups as well, according to Senate Secretary, Leala Marlin, who proposed the bill with Senator Blake Tate.

Another community to be benefited by the gender neutral/family style bathrooms is the disabled. According to Marlin, “There are nearly 2,400 students with a disability, hidden or shown on campus, and these restrooms would accommodate them.”

Diversity Affairs of UT was in attendance at the meeting, showing their support for the bill, along with several other organizations on campus.

Guest Presenter Alena Clay, Co-Director of Diversity Affairs said, “I think that this action shows that students are more and more on board with making UT inclusive and accessible for all students.”

Several students showed up to the meeting to show their support to pass this bill and made signs to hold during the session.

According to Tate, the goal is to have 75 percent of these restrooms implemented by summer of 2019, with plans to gain a percentage of the money through the funding by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Other orders of business included Bill 04-15, the Bill to Bring UT Buildings into ADA Compliance, which passed with 67 voting Yes, and bill 05-15 that proposes hiring additional physical therapists at the Student Health Center, which is yet to be voted on.

Edited by Maggie Jones