Help needed with reporting damage
As of early November 2021, the university has added gender-inclusive signage to all multi-stall restrooms on campus. These signs read “This is a multi-stall restroom open to everyone. CMU supports an individual’s choice of restroom,” on the outside (next to the gender designation), and “This restroom is for everyone. Carnegie Mellon supports individuals using the facility of their choice. Please help us make campus a more welcoming and safer place for everyone. For more information, visit cmu.edu/all-gender” on the inside. The intent of these signs is to communicate the university’s stance on restroom access for all, regardless of gender identity or presentation. These are temporary, foam core signs; more durable placards are expected to go up in the next few months.
Some individuals have damaged or outright removed the signs that affirm all-gender access, and also vandalized restrooms with stickers sold by a known Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) website (for more info, see this article in The Tartan); university administration is aware of this damage, and has a system in place to track and repair any reported issues. This is transphobic behavior that targets our community, and these actions will not be permitted to take hold on our campus.
Take Action to Get Better Restroom Access
UPDATE: The hearing referenced below has passed. We are waiting to hear the Board of Health's response to testimony submitted and will update this page as soon as we know more.
Proposed Revisions by the Allegheny County Health Department will not make a significant impact on restroom access.
We are asking you to join us in demanding the ACHD do better via the following actions:
1. Submit a comment
2. Register to speak at the hearing
How to Submit Comments and Register to Speak
Write your Public Health Comment
Submit your comment in writing by 11:59 PM on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, to PublicHealthComment@AlleghenyCounty.us or by mail to Attn: Article XV Comments (Plumbing) Allegheny County Health Department 542 Fourth Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
Sign Up to Speak
Sign up to speak at the official Hearing.
Why is My Action Needed?
Pittsburgh Plumbing Code Primer and History
How does Allegheny County not all for All Gender Restrooms?
Allegheny County’s current plumbing code forces establishments to have a certain number of sex-segregated (men’s and women’s) bathrooms before allowing for all-gender restrooms. In many cases, this makes it less likely that establishments will have the space for additional all-gender restrooms. This prevents most establishments from creating facilities that would accommodate people for whom “Men’s” and “Women’s” rooms do not feel safe or comfortable, including Pittsburgh’s gender-diverse population, parents of small children and many disabled people and their caregivers. At Carnegie Mellon University, many older buildings have no all-gender restrooms, and because of the current plumbing code, the university has limited ability to convert existing gendered restrooms to all-gender.
As State Representative Dan Frankel points out, “The county rightly bars discrimination against individuals on the basis of their gender identity or expression, but then also bars the owners of buildings — potentially, their employers — from accommodating them.”
The Trans, Intersex, and Nonbinary Alliance (TINA) and our allies demand that the ACHD implement practical changes to plumbing code and enforcement to protect the health of county residents and visitors.
After a request from Nica Ross, faculty at the CMU School of Drama, representatives from the ACHD Plumbing Program, Representative Dan Frankel’s office and representatives from CMU met to to address the limits to all-gender restroom facilities imposed by the Health Department's Plumbing Code Article XV. The meeting ended with no solutions and the Allegheny County Health Department took no further action.
The ACHD Plumbing Program opened a public comment period on amendments to the Health Department's Plumbing Code Article XV. TINA and allied organizations, Representative Dan Frankel’s office and other affected institutions, including CMU, submitted comments requesting that the ACHD model their code on the 2021 IPC language, which allows for wider implementation of single stall restrooms and provides a model for multi-stall restrooms that increase user privacy. The ACHD only responded to the comment submitted by Representative Dan Frankel, and did not acknowledge the large number of other comments received. The response was simply that they would look into it, and no timeline or transparency was provided. In addition, they did not include the issue in the minutes from the meeting.
April 19, 2021
The ACHD proposed minimal changes to the plumbing code to the Allegheny Plumbing Advisory Council, with very little public notice. The proposed changes can be found here. These changes are impractical, difficult to implement, and do not come close to achieving restroom access equity in Allegheny county. Furthermore, the changes were paired with an unrelated, unsafe, de-professionalizing and job killing code revision. ACHD told the Plumbing Advisory Board that they had to either vote to approve both changes or neither. The Board elected to write a letter explaining their vote to not approve the unsafe revision, but offered their support for expanding restroom access. We thank them for their practical and informed opinion in support of safety for all.
May 5, 2021
The Board of Health was scheduled to discuss the proposed plumbing code changes without a formal comment period and notice to the public (its standard operation). As a result of TINA’s organizing and input, the Board was presented with nearly 50 public comments reflecting support for all-gender restroom access in the form of more effective plumbing code revisions than the ACHD proposed. Specifically, Caroline Mitchell, Joylette Portlock, Edith Shapira and Lee Harrison all expressed their support for more impactful changes to the plumbing code. The Board moved to send the revisions forward for public comment.
The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Board of Health is providing a 30-day public comment period beginning May 20 and holding a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, at 5:00 PM to take testimony on proposed plumbing code revisions which would minimally expand access to All-Gender restrooms.
To report transphobic stickers:
Photograph the sticker in question
If you do not want to remove the sticker yourself, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, attach the photo of the sticker, and describe the location with as much detail as possible (for example, “third stall from the left in the women’s restroom on the 5th floor of Wean Hall, near the main elevators”)
If you can remove the sticker, do so, and send an email to email@example.com with the photo attached and describe the location
Suggested subject lines: “Transphobic stickers in restroom” “Transphobic restroom vandalism”
To report missing or damaged signs:
Photograph the damage, or the space where the sign is missing
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, attach the photo, and describe the location
Suggested subject lines: “Gender-inclusive signage damaged” “Gender-inclusive signage missing”
In all cases of reporting, this incident will be tracked internally by the university’s All-Gender Restroom Access Committee, which will be used to inform ongoing work to ensure equitable bathroom access for all members and guests of the CMU community. FMS has been quick to replace signage when reported, so this is an effective way to reduce the impact of this vandalism.
We greatly encourage allies to participate in documenting and reporting these incidents.
For TIN individuals, if you would like your reports anonymized, please send photos, timestamps, and location descriptions to email@example.com. One of the TINA organizers will remove all identifying information and submit the report on your behalf.
What We’re Asking
Specifically we are asking the ACHD to change the code so that:
All single stall restrooms must be designated All-Gender.
All facilities/buildings/businesses should have the ability to construct All-Gender multi stall restrooms with floor to ceiling stalls and enclosed urinals.
Subject: Proposed modifications to Article XV are not enough!
To whom it may concern:
[Include what you’re asking for in your own words- encourage ACHD to change the plumbing code so that:
§ All single stall restrooms must be designated All-Gender and
§ All facilities/buildings/businesses should have the ability to construct All-Gender multi stall restrooms with floor to ceiling stalls and enclosed urinals.]
[Include why this is important to you. This may include how it affects you or those who you care about, the spaces you access in Allegheny County etc.]