Vermont Requires Gender-Neutral Bathrooms
Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor
May 22, 2018
A new Vermont law will result in more gender-free restrooms. Beginning July 1, 2018, single-user restrooms in public buildings or places of public accommodation must be available for use by persons of any gender.
The single-user restrooms also must be designated for use by not more than one occupant at a time, or for family or assisted use. The toilet facility may be identified by a sign if the sign marks the restroom as a restroom and does not indicate a specific gender. Restrooms with more than one toilet in the same room are not covered by the new law and may still be restricted by gender. Separate male or female restrooms are not required if single-user restrooms provide the total number of required plumbing fixtures.
The new law fulfilled a campaign promise by Governor Phil Scott, who had spoken in support of transgender students being allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, and was welcomed by representatives of Vermont's LGBT community. "Vermont has a well-earned reputation for embracing equality and being inclusive," said Scott at the bill-signing ceremony.
Bathroom use is often an important and sensitive issue for transgender individuals. A 2013 study by the UCLA Williams Institute found that 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face serious threats - including being verbally harassed, denied access or physically assaulted - when using gender-specific restrooms.
Vermont's Fair Employment Practices Act includes gender identity as a protected class in accommodation laws. Most worksites are included under Vermont law's definition of "place of public accommodation," which includes restaurants, stores, or other establishments or facilities where services, facilities, goods or accommodations are offered to the general public. Employers should review and revise bathroom signage to comply with the law, as well as review their methods of providing restroom privacy for all employees.