April 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. launches trans-friendly ‘Safe Bathrooms’ campaign
D.C. Office of Human Rights, Safe Bathrooms, transgender, gay news

One of the D.C. Office of Human Rights’ advertisements for the Safe Bathrooms campaign. (Image courtesy of the DCOHR)

The D.C. Office of Human Rights on Thursday launched a city-funded campaign to step up enforcement of a little known law that requires single-occupancy bathrooms in restaurants and other businesses to be gender neutral.

OHR spokesperson Elliot Imse said the law and its implementing regulations are aimed at making it easier for transgender people and others to safely access public bathrooms.

“The District requires all single-occupancy bathrooms at restaurants, businesses or other public places to be gender-neutral, without labels such as ‘male’ or ‘female,’” a statement released by the OHR says.

“While in the past, non-compliant bathrooms could be reported to OHR through a lengthy form, now community members can alert OHR by tweeting the business name and location using the hashtag #safebathroomsDC, or by submitting a short five question form on the OHR website,” the statement says.

OHR Director Monica Palacios presided over an official launch ceremony for the campaign on Thursday at Casa Ruby, the LGBT community center at 2822 Georgia Ave., N.W. Casa Ruby reaches out to the transgender and Latino LGBT community.

Palacios and other OHR officials unveiled at the ceremony what they called “a series of attention-grabbing advertisements” with the tagline: “Public bathrooms are challenging enough. Help make them a bit easier for our transgender community.”

“Although the campaign advertisements are focused on the benefit of gender-neutral bathrooms to the transgender and gender non-conforming community, people with personal attendants of the opposite gender and parents with children of the opposite gender also frequently benefit from gender-neutral bathrooms,” the statement says.

Further information about the advertisements and the gender-neutral bathroom requirements can be accessed at ohr.dc.gov/bathrooms.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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