Rhode Island State House

The House of Representatives today approved legislation introduced by Majority Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), that would make single-user restrooms in public places non-gender specific.

The bill (2021-H 5741) would amend the state building code to require that any single-user toilet facility in a public building or place of public accommodation be available for use by persons of any gender by Jan. 1, 2022.

“Gender-specific restrooms can cause a great deal of anxiety for members of the transgender community,” said Representative Edwards in a statement. “The reason for that anxiety is the verbal — and sometimes physical — harassment that many of them have experienced. This bill would simply strip single-user bathrooms of any gender designation, which will go a long way toward improving the mental health of members of the transgender and non-binary community. This is an important step for the state to take in providing for the inclusion of all its residents.”

This act would also require that all new construction of state and municipal buildings opened to the public after July 1, 2021, would provide for a single-user toilet facility for use by persons of any gender.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0755) has been introduced by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield).