This piece was originally published in Cleveland Scene and appears here with permission.
City government officials and LGBTQ+ community leaders gathered Thursday for the ribbon cutting of Cleveland City Hall’s first gender-inclusive restroom. City Council members and Mayor Justin Bibb were joined by advocates and representatives from the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, Plexus LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Campaign and TransOhio.
“We do a lot of training helping organizations be more inclusive and I often get frustrated that we’re even talking about bathrooms when it comes to discussing transgender identity and visibility because it is so much more than that culturally, vibrantly and with regards to being visible,” said Plexus executive director Amanda Cole. “But, inclusive restroom spaces are a small, structural and important change to make and the city is making that effort and we’re so thankful.”
The first-floor bathroom was upgraded from a single-use bathroom to an ADA- accessible one with two sinks and two stalls with floor-to-ceiling walls and doors. The restroom will be available and accessible to all, including transgender and gender-diverse people, people with disabilities, people in wheelchairs, people with children and older people.
“As you see this attack on the LGBTQIA+ community in the statehouse, as you see the attacks coming from our Supreme Court, we as mayors, we as city leaders are going to always fight for these kinds of values,” Bibb said. “So I’m excited to be here today and excited for all the hard work we’re going to continue to do.”
The city of Cleveland first passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity seven years ago in 2016. However, some state legislation conflicts with the ordinance’s goal of gender inclusivity.
This year, republican Representatives Beth Lear and Adam Bird sponsored House Bill 183, which aims to ban gender-inclusive bathrooms like the one at City Hall in Ohio schools and colleges, mandating that restrooms must be designated by “biological sex”
“This is a moment where we are facing historical attacks on our trans community and that something that feels, maybe to some, as small as a bathroom is an incredible statement. It is an important moment for us and I’m truly so honored to celebrate it,” said Ward 12 Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer.
“When we have public facilities that are accessible to our entire community, that says what we really believe: that this is the people’s hall, this is the people’s town and I’m honored to serve it.” 🔥
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