How new gender-neutral bathroom in White House sends powerful message

The LGBTQ community has hit major milestones with the legalization of same-sex marriage in 36 states and a recent order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation that went into effect this month. Yet, it is perhaps the quieter changes that have become significant indicators of the changing attitudes toward LGTBQ individuals, such as the new gender-neutral bathroom that has opened in the White House.

The gender-neutral bathroom is located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in the West Wing of the White House.

“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” White House spokesman, Jeff Tillman, told ABC News. “Which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect for federal contractors.”

The news has elicited praise from LGBTQ organizations and activists.

“It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in an interview with ABC News.

New legislative action in other countries has also changed in order to address individuals who many not identify as either female or male. Official documents in England now give their citizens the option to identify as “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, or “X.”

Many students have been able to draw parallels between the effect this will have for employees at the White House and the effect gender-neutral bathrooms have had for students here.

“I really am grateful that we have [gender-neutral bathrooms] on campus,” first-year Sarah Cohen, who identifies as agender, said. “The increased communication between people has really raised awareness, and I think that just the news that there is a [gender-neutral] bathroom in the White House will do more than the bathroom itself, which is already a really big step.”

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