Gender-inclusive bathrooms bill unanimously approved by Montgomery County Council

Sign for inclusive restroom, with symbol indicating male, female and transgender as well as handicapped symbol, part of LGBT rights initiatives in the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco, California, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collecti

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously approved a bill that requires at least one, single-user restroom be made available regardless of gender in certain public buildings.

The new legislation also requires signage designating gender-inclusive restrooms. 

"This bill is supported by many advocacy groups including those representing the disability community and the LGBTQ+ community," said Councilmember Sidney Katz. "It is well reasoned, will not be burdensome to implement and will help everyone feel more comfortable." 

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Bill 4-22, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Public Accommodations – Gender Inclusive Restrooms, aims to increase accessibility for anyone to use a single-user restroom, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression. Existing law allowed an owner of a business or County-owned building to restrict single-occupancy restrooms to a specific gender.  

"We want everyone in Montgomery County to feel welcome here," said Council Vice President Glass, Montgomery County’s first LGBTQ+ Councilmember. "Members of our trans, nonbinary and disability communities often feel anxious and ignored by the choices of restrooms in commercial spaces. This legislation will help provide ease and comfort to them and everyone." 

The council says this bill would benefit people with disabilities, who have caregivers of a different gender, or parents with children of a different gender, who may require assistance using a public restroom.

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Other jurisdictions in Maryland and across the nation have successfully implemented similar legislation, including the City of Salisbury, Baltimore City and Howard County in Maryland; the City of Seattle in Washington; California; Austin City in Texas; and the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. 

The Council staff report on the bill can be viewed here