All-gender bathroom in library sparks discussion

May 1, 2019, 5:37 PM | Updated: 6:15 pm
(Photo: Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News.  Photo from an all-gender bathroom at the University of Uta...
(Photo: Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News. Photo from an all-gender bathroom at the University of Utah)
(Photo: Jeffrey D Allred, Deseret News. Photo from an all-gender bathroom at the University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY – A brand new all-gender bathroom is in the works at the Sprague Library in Sugar House, and it’s sparking a lot of discussion online.  However, this new bathroom may be more of a legal issue than many people would expect.

If it’s just a bathroom, why are there any legal issues at all?

“You can’t simply [install this bathroom] and be compliant with the law, as the law now stands,” according to University of Utah Law Professor Terry Kogan.

Utah has adopted the latest version of the International Building Code, which requires public bathrooms be separated by sex.  However, people can work around this particular code.

“Right now, if you want to put an all-gender, multi-use bathroom in a building, you have to get special permission from a building code compliance officer,” Kogan says, which developers received for the Sprague Library.  Kogan Adds, “This is common in other parts and other countries.  It’s just not common in America.”

These bathrooms will not be designed like most of us are used to.  For example, Kogan says there is no front door to the washroom, so everyone will be able to see the area where people are washing their hands or using the mirrors.  However, the stalls are designed so there is no way anyone can look inside while it’s being used.

“The stalls in these restrooms have floor-to-ceiling walls and floor-to-ceiling doors.  There are no visual gaps around the doors,” he says.

Salt Lake City officials tell the Deseret News “barely anybody blinked” when the plans were shown in public meetings.

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All-gender bathroom in library sparks discussion