Some of you may have seen an article in the Willamette Week about my disappointment with the multi-occupant, all-user restroom configuration in the Portland Building’s pilot on the 2nd floor. I want to apologize for the impact that my statements and/or the way they were portrayed by the media have had on many of you and others in the Portland community, to clarify my concerns about the configuration, and to convey my continued support for all-user restrooms.
I did not intend to speak on behalf of all women or all people in the trans community. To those who were impacted by that characterization, I apologize.
I believe that all bathroom facilities must be secure and safe for all users. No one should have to make stressful choices about which bathroom to enter based on their gender identity and I realize that many Portlanders are forced to grapple with these decisions each day. That is why I am proud to have supported the City’s All-User Restroom policy – so that City staff and City residents are free to use the restroom they are most comfortable in.
Policy, however, is only as good as implementation. While I support all-user restrooms, I believe that design and implementation are crucial to success. I have expressed concerns about the 2nd floor of the Portland Building’s pilot because the implementation did not seem to match the intention of the policy to support safe restroom facilities for everyone. That was the principle that led to my comments about these facilities, after an incident reported by a woman in October that a man was using one of the stalls with the door open. At the same time, I recognize now that the all-user restrooms on the 2nd floor of the Portland Building may have been a better option that than single-gender options available throughout the rest of the building.
Let me be clear: I am fully supportive of all-user restroom facilities that are multi-occupant and single-occupant. My commitment to providing safe, comfortable restrooms for all users has been demonstrated over many years and will continue. I ensured that Portland Parks & Recreation implemented the new City policy as quickly as possible to convert all single-occupant restrooms from gender-specific to all-user facilities.
I understand that for many people, single-occupancy restrooms are more safe and comfortable than multi-occupant restrooms. At the same time, I recognize that some people may feel “othered” if their only option is single-occupant all-user restrooms. Having options is important. That is why I was actively engaged in planning the new design for the bathroom facilities at Pioneer Courthouse Square that are currently under construction. This design will offer both single-occupant all-user restrooms as well as multi-occupant all-user restrooms with a common sink area and an attendant.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with anyone who would like to provide feedback on my concerns, their feelings about the all-user restroom pilot on the 2nd floor, and how we can make all-user restrooms as safe as possible. I will also continue discussions with the Mayor and my fellow Commissioners so that we can ensure that all-user restrooms are indeed safe for all users.