University Student Launches Unique Demonstration For Gender Neutral Facilities

University Student Launches Unique Demonstration For Gender Neutral Facilities

Published October 20, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons / Titoine08

A queer activist and student at the University of Iceland—who has already made several formal appeals to the school for gender neutral bathrooms, in keeping with the university’s stated equality platform—has taken the initiative by attempting to place gender neutral markers on the school’s bathroom doors. They say they have received considerable, albeit not universal, support for the act, and both Icelandic primary and secondary schools have already experimented with the concept successfully.

Fréttablaðið reports that Mars Proppé has grown weary of the university’s nonbinary students being excluded in various spheres of campus, the bathrooms among them. They have already attempted to convince the university to switch the gender neutral bathrooms through formal means, as Mars has sat on the equality council of the Student’s Council, and is now on the equality council of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

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“It doesn’t matter how we bring a lot of attention to this, both from the point of view of the students and also within the bureaucracy of equality representatives who are on salary from the rector’s office,” Mars told reporters. “It’s like they have the power to do nothing about this.”

They continue: “It’s not like this would be a huge deal, the infrastructure is there, there are enough bathrooms that it would only take marking some of them [as gender neutral] in order to make them accessible to everyone.”

As such, Mars has taken matters onto their own initiative with the use of bathroom signs marked “Everyone’s restroom” (Snyrting allra) and putting them to use.

“I started sticking them up across the whole university as a kind of statement, but they didn’t stay up for half a day before they were taken down,” they said. “So there is obviously an agenda that we are not included.”

Mars furthermore tweeted that they were confronted by a janitor who attempted to obstruct the demonstration, telling them that the disabled persons’ bathroom should be enough. It bears mentioning that asking otherwise not-disabled students to use the disabled persons’ bathrooms as an informal gender neutral bathroom can exclude disabled students.

“I want the directorship of the university to take a clear position with equality,” Mars says. “Not just women versus men, but rather an equality for everyone, and create an environment open to everyone. Because right now it isn’t. This includes having bathrooms for everyone. There’s a lot of talk about equality, but nothing done about it.”

That said, Mars also reports having received a lot of support from others on campus, which is of little surprise. Gender neutral facilities have been tried in Icelandic primary schools and secondary schools, where the project has reportedly been successful, and has had the support of parents, faculty and students alike.

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