Dec 19, 2016
DENVER – With a unanimous vote by City Council tonight, the City and County of Denver has amended its building code to require that all new and existing single-stall restrooms provide signs designating them as gender neutral.
“Denver will take every step we can to remove barriers for our people while creating more convenience. This is who we are as a city and I’m very proud of that,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. “This code change was a commonsensical action that we know will allow people to live their lives without anxiety about something as simple as bathroom access. This is also another way in which Denver demonstrates that we are a welcoming and inclusive place to call home for all our people.”
The code change was the result of collaboration between community leaders on Denver’s LGBTQ Commission, Councilpersons Jolon Clark and Robin Kniech, and the Department of Community Planning and Development.
"This is a common sense update to our building code that ensures that all residents and visitors to Denver will feel comfortable when they need to use the restroom,” Councilman Clark said. “This change also reflects the inclusive city that Denver is by formalizing a simple change that will mean so much to so many."
"In many ways, this change is Denver following the lead of businesses who have already been seeking to use gender neutral signage because it works better for their customers," said Councilwoman Kniech.
The amendments to the building code will provide more options for those who are transgender, caregivers of the elderly and disabled, parents of small children, and customers who should not have to wait in line when there is an empty single-stall restroom available. The amendment does not affect multi‐stall bathrooms, which must remain gender‐specific. Since 2008, transgender individuals have had the right to use the restroom of their gender in the State of Colorado.
“It took tremendous leadership, conviction and creativity to create new rules around gender neutral bathrooms in the city,” said Leah Pryor-Lease, Chair of Denver’s LGBTQ Commission. “The dedicated volunteers who make up the LGBTQ Commission found partners at the Mayor’s Office, City Council and Denver Community Planning and Development who were willing to work shoulder to shoulder to make it happen. A special shout out to Jill Jennings Golich and her team in CPD who found a sustainable way to ensure more equity, safety and convenience for parents with young children, individuals with caretakers, and the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender or gender nonconforming.”
"Tonight's vote shows a strong commitment from the City and County of Denver to decrease discrimination against transgender people who often experience harassment when only trying to use the restroom," said Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state's leading LGBTQ advocacy organization. "We want to thank Denver City Council, the Mayor's LGBTQ Commission, and the Department of Community Planning and Development for taking this step in favor of access and convenience for transgender people, people with disabilities, and families in Denver."
Members of the Denver business community, including Downtown Denver, Inc., have expressed their support for the policy change. The code change requires businesses that currently have single stall bathrooms to change the signage.
The amendment provides a description of the type of wording that will be required, but does not mandate a specific sign – the sign must make it clear that the bathroom is open to use by all. For existing single‐stall restrooms and family or assisted‐use restrooms, property owners and/or tenants will have until May 1, 2018 to comply with the new signage requirement.