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.