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Students demonstrate for gender-neutral showers

Students+hold+signs+and+pass+out++yers+in+between+classes.+Their+goal+is+to+have+more+gender-neutral+showers+on+campus.+%7C+Andrew+Watson+for+The+Easterner%0A
Students hold signs and pass out  yers in between classes. Their goal is to have more gender-neutral showers on campus. | Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Students hold signs and pass out yers in between classes. Their goal is to have more gender-neutral showers on campus. | Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Students hold signs and pass out yers in between classes. Their goal is to have more gender-neutral showers on campus. | Andrew Watson for The Easterner

By Josh Fletcher, News Editor

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Students from the EWU Pride Center held a demonstration outside of Patterson Hall September 26 in the hopes of getting more gender-inclusive showers on campus.

“I struggled with feeling safe on campus,” said senior Mels Felton, regarding the lack of gender neutral showers. “The only bathrooms I could use and feel comfortable in are all the way out in Patterson and Hargreaves.”

Felton, along with other transgender students and supporters on campus, were outside holding shower caddies and wearing robes to show what they would have to wear, and carry, around campus with them to get to a shower they felt comfortable using.

“It is really not all that efficient. Are you going to bring your shower caddy to class with you? Are you going to have to walk all the way back to your dorm?” Felton asked.

The students objective is to have an opt-in, gender-inclusive wing of a residence hall so that transgender, and non-binary (someone who doesn’t identify as male or female),  do not face unnecessary discrimination when showering.

Nick Franco, the Pride Center manager, believes it’s not welcoming to new students coming to Eastern who may be transgender.

“If you are a non-binary student, for example, and you want to come to Eastern and you have to live on campus, you would have to choose between one or the other gender facility. So there isn’t a bathroom that would be inclusive for what you identify.”

Opponents to the idea don’t think it’s safe to have males and females showering together at school. Franco though doesn’t believe those narratives are valid.

“There has been concerns with safety with multiple genders interacting in one gender neutral shower facility in a shower hall. The preponderance of evidence is that this is not dangerous, many universities across the country have this.”

In the state of Washington there is non-discrimination laws that currently allow people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, but that doesn’t mean students feel safe, or comfortable doing it.

“If I were to live on campus and want to take a shower, I would either feel unsafe showering in the women’s showers, or I would have to come to Patterson to shower in one of the ADA showers,” sophomore Jordan McGee said.

The Pride Center already has support from Housing and Residental life to include gender neutral bathrooms. Josh Ashcrost, the Senior Director of Housing and Residential Life, said they have had “great conversations,” with the students, and look forward to continuing their talks to accommodate their needs.

“No additional resources would be needed,” Franco said, “This is just people existing like they normally would.”

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Students demonstrate for gender-neutral showers