The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-R), in partnership with the Waterloo Undergraduate Students Association (WUSA) and the Glow Centre, is expanding all-gender washroom options on campus. We want to acknowledge and thank those in WUSA, the Glow Centre, and other Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming campus community members involved in advancing this project.
Having all-gender washrooms available to everyone is a critical step to enhance safety, access, and options for Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming campus community members.
We are completing this work in phases and are excited to share our progress with you.
If you have questions about this project please email us.
Ensure that wherever possible, every building on main campus contains all-gender washroom options – either multi-stall, single-stall or both. Buildings will still contain gendered multi-stall washrooms and/or will have single-stall washroom options for campus users who prefer a gendered or individual washroom space.
This future phase will include assessing washrooms for minor accessibility and infrastructure improvements where possible, exploring possibilities for ablution and the addition of other amenities to enhance inclusion. It will also expand exploring the conversion of all-gender washroom options in the satellite campuses, the Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo (AFIW), and Campus Housing. Currently, each first-year residence building in Campus Housing has at least one all-gender washroom in their central complex area for all students to use when hanging out with friends, studying, and dining. Our newest residence, Claudette Millar Hall, has all-gender washrooms on each floor.
This phase will also include exploring the cost and feasibility of installing a limited number of single stall all-gender washrooms in buildings without opportunities for multi-stall washroom conversion.
Based on information gathered in Phase Two, the final phase will involve the construction of new, all-gender, single stall washrooms in strategic locations across campus where possible. This work will continue to increase the availability of inclusive washrooms for two spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming community members.
Phase Three will also explore how the University of Waterloo can meet ongoing inclusive washroom needs.
Frequently asked questions
What are gender-neutral or all-gender washrooms?
Gender-neutral or all-gender washrooms are spaces that individuals can access and use, regardless of their gender identity. Unlike gender-specific washrooms (which are designated as being for either women or men), all-gender facilities are available for use by anyone.
Why is the University of Waterloo creating all-gender washrooms?
Research has shown that gender-specific washrooms are often sites of harassment and discrimination for Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming people. According to a 2018 study conducted by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, up to 70% of Trans people have experienced some sort of negative reaction when accessing a public bathroom. The same study indicates that 57% of Trans Ontarians have avoided using public washrooms for fear of harassment. We know the impacts of these experiences can lead to immense mental and physical health problems.
All-gender washrooms are an important way for the University of Waterloo to make our campus safer and more inclusive for Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming individuals. Like many other college and university campuses across Canada, we are working towards inclusion. We believe campus community members are at their best academically, professionally and personally when they can access safe spaces across campus; including safe spaces to use the washroom.
The Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibit discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and expression (which are Code-protected grounds). Everyone has the right to use washrooms that align with their gender identity. Some Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming individuals may choose to use gender-specific washrooms, as is their right. All campus community members deserve to have access to washrooms free from harassment or discrimination.
All-gender washrooms also benefit a variety of washroom users – including but not limited to campus community members that require a support person or care-giver in the washroom, those who need to accompany their children of different genders to the washroom, or other washroom users who require aide from those potentially of a different gender identity.
Why multi-stall gender-neutral washrooms, instead of building more single-stall options?
While single-user washrooms are one way to create safe and inclusive spaces, they should not be the only options for washroom access forTwo Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming individuals. There should be multiple options available to everyone in the campus community to use.
Additionally, infrastructure barriers, significant cost, space challenges and building code requirements make it challenging to create the number of single-user washrooms we would need in current buildings on campus. Moving forward, all-gender washrooms will be proactively considered in plans for future construction of Waterloo buildings.
Where are the washrooms/how can I find them?
There is an all-gender washroom in every building on campus (with limited exceptions to be addressed in Phases Two and Three). Please refer to this list to locate where the closest all-gender washroom is located.
How were these washrooms selected?
A group of trans students and staff recommended an initial list of washroom locations, and a survey was conducted in November 2022 of those proposed locations.
The core project team worked closely with Plant Operations to revise bathroom locations based on the responses received. Specific attention was paid to ensuring a balance between the conversion of men’s and women’s washrooms within buildings and across campus. The team also considered elements including the location of the proposed washroom in the building, the overall washroom distribution in the building, the number of washrooms overall, and the internal set up of the washrooms themselves
We brought these proposals back to each Faculty and Academic Support Unit head – and received additional feedback on factors including wayfinding and building specific information that would impact access to certain washrooms.
In some buildings the washrooms selected are the same as those initially proposed in November – but in others based on the substantive feedback received, the washrooms identified have changed.
Based on this process the final list of washrooms identified for conversion meets Phase One of the projects’ goal of ensuring there is an all-gender washroom option where possible, in every building on main campus.
What will the washrooms look like?
Every newly converted all-gender washroom will include a sign indicating that it is a multi-stall washroom, and images of the fixtures inside (e.g. toilets, urinals) to allow people to select a washroom with the fixtures they’d like to use.
Each washroom will also include menstrual waste disposals, sharps disposals and privacy strips on individual stall doors where needed. All-gender washrooms include options with urinals, and options without.
Minor accessibility upgrades will be part of phase two of this project.
Will there still be gendered options?
Every building will retain gendered washrooms. Most buildings on campus retain predominantly gendered washrooms. In buildings where it was not possible to retain gendered washrooms and create all-gender washrooms during this first phase of work, washrooms were left gendered. These buildings, which are few in number, will be part of Phase Two and Three of this project to find opportunities for all-gender access.
What do I do if I am uncomfortable using all-gender washrooms, or I am unable to do so because of other Code-protected grounds?
The University will still have gender-specific washrooms, and where available single-user washrooms, in every building across campus that you may use. This ensures that all members of our campus community have access to a variety of options for washroom use.
What are the rights of washroom users?
Every campus community member has the right to use a University of Waterloo washroom free from discrimination and harassment based on Code-protected grounds. This includes safe access to washrooms for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity and gender expression.
What happens if I experience or witness harm in any washroom on campus?
Harm can happen in any location or washroom on campus regardless of whether it's gendered, all-gender, single or multi-stall. We know that Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming people experience disproportionate harm or harassment in washrooms, which this project in part seeks to address by increasing the number of explicitly all-gender washrooms on campus.
If you experience or witness transphobia or any type of harm in any washroom on campus you can access emergency support through the Special Constable Service.
There are also many other non-emergency supports available on campus depending on your need, including Glow, QTWell, Counselling Services, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, Health Services and the Office of Equity Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-racism.
Does the project also think about other inclusivity measures?
This future phase will include assessing washrooms for minor accessibility and infrastructure improvements where possible, explore possibilities for ablution and the addition of other amenities to enhance inclusion.
Why are there products in men’s washrooms?
We want to ensure that anyone who menstruates can access products when they need them, which includes people who use the men’s washrooms. If you do not use these products, you can just leave them undisturbed.
Will there be all-gender washrooms coming to satellite campuses, Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo (AFIW) and Campus Housing?
Yes – we will be working with satellite campuses, AFIW and Campus Housing in Phase Two of this project to explore opportunities for all-gender washrooms where possible. We will update the Waterloo community with more information on this new phase as it becomes available.
The core project team consisted of Emily Burnell, Associate Director Equity, EDI-R; Alero Ogbeide, Equity Specialist, WUSA; Jill Knight, Manager, Advocacy & Stakeholder Relations, WUSA; Melissa Moogk-Soulis, Design Technologist, Architectural, Plant Operations; and Becky Elming, Interim Director Media Relations.
We would like to extend gratitude to the many campus community members who advocated for, supported, guided and coordinated efforts to make this project possible. We know there are many, but would like to specifically (and non-exhaustively), name:
- Cael Dobson
- Chris Lowry
- Eleanor Aurora
- Gender and Sexual Diversity Alliance
- Glow Centre
- Jazz Fitzgerald
- Jeremy Steffler
- Mary Robinson
- Maya Morton Ninomiya
- Sam Faulkner
- Samantha Kennedy
- Sophia Pitts
- Wren Alden
Please let us know of any unintentional omissions or folks that should be added to this list.