Designing Gender Inclusive Facilities And Policy

Providing a gender inclusive workplace benefits everyone. Eliminating separations by gender treats all employees equally and also addresses the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary employees. Remember, a larger percentage of your future employees are likely to identify as being other than cisgender, so if you are planning a remodel or a new law enforcement agency building, you should give strong consideration to designing gender inclusive facilities.

Law enforcement agencies, colleges, universities, and high schools are all types of organizations that today are designing gender inclusive locker room and restrooms facilities for new and remodeled spaces. This may sound really unconventional and even risky, but we don’t get a chance to make physical changes to our facilities often, so we highly recommend you give this area of building design very strong consideration.

Gender inclusive locker rooms provide privacy for all employees. Employees who are uncomfortable changing clothes in front of others for whatever reason have access to private spaces. Cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, and gender non-conforming employees (everyone) is provided the same level of privacy and access to lockers, toilets, showers, and sinks no matter how they identify their gender. If an employee “comes out” as transgender, one of the most significant challenges in a transition (moving locker rooms) is eliminated.

There is a growing collection of gender inclusive locker room designs. Here is one as an example of what it could look like.

This particular design has separate toilet rooms and shower and changing rooms.  Other designs we have seen combine toilet, shower, and a changing space in one private room.  The general locker space is used by everyone. You no longer have to be concerned about running out of lockers for any one gender. There is no longer a “men’s” or “women’s” locker room.

As far as restrooms outside of the above locker room design, we strongly encourage agencies to design-in to new buildings single-use restrooms in addition to any traditional gender-based restrooms. Again, these single-use restrooms support the needs of all employees by providing a private space.

In addition to facilities, updating uniform policies by removing gender references is important. This can not only promote an inclusive workplace, but also reduce the chances of a discrimination claim based on differing gender-based standards.

This isn’t about responding to the needs of a single or micro-sized population of the workforce. This is about inclusive design and function that supports the needs of all employees in the same way.