“I think if you are a business—or any place with public accommodation—that has single-stalled restrooms, they should be gender neutral,” Nelson told The Daily Beast. “There’s no reason that a one-person bathroom needs to be gendered. It’s great to have the option of a gender neutral restroom and also gendered restrooms.”
Many businesses, however, are even pushing to make multi-occupancy bathrooms open to everyone. At New York’s MoMa PS1 in Long Island City, museum guests might notice long lines of men and women both waiting to use the same restroom.
Moss, an architecture firm in Chicago, believes that every public restroom can—and should—be gender neutral. In a 2015 design proposal, their answer to the problem of gendered bathrooms is similar to PS1’s: clusters of single-occupancy stall that look like closets and share a common sink space. You’ve likely used facilities like these before and not even realized it.
Such solutions might make those worried about the threat of sexual assault in a public restroom squirm. That’s a more than understandable fear, but statistics show that most rapists aren’t lurking in the bathroom. According to the National Institute for Justice, an estimated 6 in 10 “sexual assault victims…were assaulted by an intimate partner, relative, friend, or acquaintance.” Many of these incidents take place at a private residence or at home.