Gender Fair features hour of gender inclusive bathrooms

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Brianna MacLean

During NMU’s second “Gender Fair” on Tuesday, March 20, the Multicultural Education and Resource Center (MERC) was given permission to allow gender neutral bathrooms on the first floor of John X. Jamrich Hall.

From 2 to 3 p.m., the men’s and women’s bathroom signs were replaced with a white piece of paper that said “Gender Neutral Bathroom,” stating along the bottom that the “Men and Women bathrooms are located on the second and third floor of Jamrich.” Gender neutral bathrooms meant that anyone of any gender identity could enter any of the bathrooms on the first floor for the one hour of the “Gender Fair.”

The idea came from Shirley Brozzo, Native American studies professor and the associative director of the MERC. Brozzo talked to Facilities and Public Safety on campus, which gave the MERC permission for one hour of gender neutral bathrooms, said Madeline Wiles.

Madeline Wiles, a junior communications major and double minor in gender and sexuality studies, found the gender neutral bathrooms to be a huge success.

“The gender neutral bathrooms meant anyone, without discrimination, could access either bathroom. One of the comments I heard during this time was, ‘Our bathrooms at home are gender neutral and you don’t hear anyone complaining, right?’” Wiles said.

Wiles, the main coordinator of the event, said “This is what the MERC does. We make movements happen on campus.”

Anthony Bowman, a sophomore public relations major, found the differences between the men’s and women’s bathrooms surprising.

“I was really jealous that the girls had a coat rack, but in the end, I think gender neutral bathrooms are something that would be good for the future,”
Bowman said.

The “Gender Fair” also included tables from different organizations and clubs in the Marquette community, such as Planned Parenthood, Queers & Allies and Gender Working Group. There was also a raffle that included about $600 worth of merchandise and gift cards donated by local businesses. Winners of the raffle prizes will be notified Friday, March 23 via email.

“I am so very proud of each organization and group that had the chance to participate this year. Everyone brought their own unique perspective and made Northern’s second ‘Gender Fair’ a success,” Wiles said.