All Gender Restrooms, Shower Curtains in High Demand, Says Allied Staff President.

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All Gender Restrooms, Shower Curtains in High Demand, Says Allied Staff President.

Story By: Natalie Gallegos, Reporter

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A previous version of this story incorrectly paraphrased Arien Reed and mischaracterized his relationship with Shannon Robertson, the director of construction services for the district. The article originally said that a lack of safe and gender-inclusive restrooms contributed to class drops, when it actually contributed to transfers prior to completing transfer-level English and math courses. The article also claimed that Reed raised the issue with the district, when it was more accurately staff, faculty, and students who raised the issue. Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard did not say that proper adjustments could be made for students experiencing harassment in locker rooms, but rather that a nearby employee should be alerted and then proper campus channels. Reed called for privacy curtains or partitions in the shower and changing areas, not “bigger changing spaces,” as the article originally said. Reed did not raise concerns with Robertson “over and over again,” rather students, staff, and faculty have claimed to raise the issue with the district.  

The president of the new Allied Staff and Faculty Association called for more all-gender bathrooms and shower curtains on the Fresno City College campus during a presentation on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

Arien Reed said there are only six all-gender bathrooms accessible to students on campus and that the district does not do all that it could to accommodate its transgender and non-binary population.

“One significant reason [for students transferring without successfully completing transfer level math and English courses] identified by our LGBTQ students and alumni has been a lack of safe and gender-inclusive restrooms on our campus and experiences of harassment in the binary-gendered restrooms, and the general hostility on our campus towards transgender and non-binary students,” Reed said.

He has first hand experience. Reed is a gay, transgender staff member, and has had to leave meetings or events for long periods of time, in order to find an unlocked all-gender restroom on campus.

“The current and unfortunate reality is transgender and non-binary staff and faculty do not feel safe, accepted, or welcome on the FCC campus,” he said.

Reed said that when these issues were raised with the district by staff, faculty, and students, the district found no reason for concern and instead explained there were plenty of gender neutral restrooms around campus.

More than a year ago, Shannon Robertson, the director of construction services for the district, promised to bring more gender neutral restrooms to campus.

Reed was told that there were 37 gender neutral bathrooms on campus and that no action had to be taken.

Upon doing his own investigation, Reed discovered that 18 out of 37 identified all gender restrooms did not exist. Twenty three single-use all gender restrooms did in fact exist, but only six of them are available to students; the rest were locked.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 12% of transgender people were verbally harassed in a public restroom, 1% physically attacked, 1% sexually assaulted, and 9% were denied the use of a public restroom.

Reed also took notice of the lack of privacy in the changing rooms and showers in the gym after another staff member came forward, asking if there was a gender neutral changing room for students.

Reed said he questioned Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, director of athletics, and was reassured that if any student ever felt uncomfortable or threatened at any moment while utilizing the gym locker room they could let an employee in the area know first who might be able to assist, and to proceed through proper campus channels.

After a tour of the gym changing room, however, Reed immediately took notice of the wide open space.

“The showers lack any kind of privacy, even curtains,” Reed said. “Everyone changing or accessing their lockers is in full view of anyone who is showering, and vice versa.”

According to Reed, this causes discomfort in LGBTQ and disabled Individuals who might feel “unsafe, unwelcome, and must confront erasure on a daily basis.”

He insists that installing curtains or partition in the showering or changing areas will create a more comfortable environment for all students.

“It is crucial that all of our students not only feel safe and welcome participating in physical education classes and events,” Reed said, “but that they may utilize our gym in any capacity.”

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