AUT aims to make loo safer on campus

AUT Rainbow Community manager Audrey Hutcheson says providing safe facilities to all AUT students is about equity and ...
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AUT Rainbow Community manager Audrey Hutcheson says providing safe facilities to all AUT students is about equity and basic human rights.

An Auckland university has introduced all-gender toilets on campus to cater for its rainbow students.

AUT Rainbow Community manager Audrey Hutcheson said 165 toilets were reassigned as all gender to cater for gender diverse people.

The term gender diverse refers to those who see themselves as different from 'male' or 'female'.

Hutcheson said toilets could be unsafe places to be for people who identify as a gender diverse.

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She said the university's new all-gender bathrooms ensured gender diverse students needs were met.

She said the change was about equity and human rights.

"We need to ensure we provide facilities all students feel safe using," she said.

The right to use the bathroom and feel safe doing so was a basic human right, she said.

Hutcheson said there were safety issues for rainbow students in using bathrooms, particularly for those people transitioning.

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The "rainbow community" refers to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, takatapui, fa'afafine, intersex or queer.

"If you're in transition and look too feminine to belong in a male bathroom, or too masculine to being using a female bathroom, being attacked verbally or physically is really common for these students," she said.

"AUT's commitment is to provide a safe community for all of our students, so that they are positioned well to complete their studies."

Most of AUT's all-gender bathrooms are self-contained, lockable mobility bathrooms.

The signage has been changed from mobility to all-gender toilet signage.

AUT have not converted all campus bathrooms to all-gender.

Students had the choice to use all-gender or gender specific bathrooms depending on what they were comfortable with, Hutcheson said.

AUT student Aych McArdle brought the issue to AUT's attention in 2012.

"Providing safe toilet facilities means we can co-exist in public is a safer way and when we look after minorities in our community, everyone does well," McArdle said.

AUT student Talavao Ki-moana Ngata said: "I am really proud my school has introduced gender neutral toilets".

AUT offers services and resources for students who identify with diverse sexual orientations, sex and gender identities. 

 - Stuff.co.nz

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