Council member wants to strip gender requirement from bathroom code

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May 24, 2013
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

City Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy (Ward 12) wants to strip language in the Minneapolis code of ordinances that requires bars and restaurants to have separate restrooms for men and women.

“It came from a Facebook post that indicated a business in my ward, who did not call to complain but must have mentioned it to a customer, was going to have much more expensive remodeling of their location because they’re being required to have separate bathrooms for men and women,” Colvin Roy said.

City ordinance references bathroom requirements for food, beer and liquor licenses.

For example, Chapter 368.90 deals with taverns: “In each tavern where beer is sold pursuant to an on-sale beer license there shall be installed and maintained for the public use at least one toilet room for each sex.”

Colvin Roy said many businesses she frequents already have gone the unisex approach.

“I’m not going to tell anybody the businesses I frequent that already do this, because it’s caused no problems,” she said. “We’re adults. You don’t need a label on it to say it’s male or female.”

An ordinance amendment still has a long process as it would need to be noticed at the City Council meeting in two weeks and then worked by staff before it could go to a committee. Colvin Roy said the city might need changes to state law to strip the gender language.

Colvin Roy said her amendment would not require businesses to offer unisex bathrooms, but would only give them the option of having them.

Having more unisex bathrooms would make it more comfortable for transgendered people, Colvin Roy added.  

“Gender identifying those bathrooms sometimes causes embarrassment if there’s some troglodytes who try to cause problems for transgendered people,” Colvin Roy said.