Updated: May 6, 2021
LGBTQ Action RI reporting
Gender-inclusive restroom signage on single-stall restrooms may be coming soon to Rhode Island. H5741 is a bill sponsored by RI State Representative John “Jay” Edwards that would make all single-stall restrooms in buildings of public accommodation gender-inclusive. It will also mandate that if government buildings do not have a single-stall restroom, they must build one when/if they undergo construction. A hearing was held on the bill before the House Judiciary committee on March 15, where it is being held for further study. During the hearing, representatives from TGI Network of Rhode Island, LGBTQ Action RI, GLAD, Thundermist Health Center, and Sojourner House testified on the importance of passing this bill for the physical and mental health and safety of Rhode Island's trans and gender diverse community.
Ethan Huckel, President of TGI Network of Rhode Island stated, "For many people, restrooms present a very real chance to encounter harassment, ridicule, or violence. In Rhode Island, gender identity and expression are protected under the law, but our lived realities can make these vulnerable spaces uncomfortable or dangerous.
H5741 is a necessary step toward remedying this problem."
Wendy Becker, a long time advocate for LGBTQ rights in Rhode Island testified that, "This bill allows individual bathrooms to simply serve individuals who need them, without regard to gender. As the mother of a non-binary person, this legislation means knowing my child won't have to avoid public spaces, fearing they will be harassed, assaulted, or threatened in the bathroom."
LGBTQ Action RI advocates for the bill’s passage, saying in a statement that it will “reduce the risk of harassment or violence and support dignity and respect for non-binary Rhode Islanders.”
In addition, caregivers of people of a different gender, including parents and children, will also benefit.
"There are many opportunities to support this bill's passage. It's still awaiting a hearing in the Senate and we will need folks to provide written and oral testimonies on the bill's necessity. Calling your state representative and senator to talk about the importance of this bill will also help," said Denise Crooks of LGBTQ Action RI.
Please visit the LGBTQ Action RI page on Facebook or Twitter for more information or to get involved.