Monday, August 15, 2016

Gender-Inclusive Restrooms & Greek Facilities Update

The Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs in partnership with The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity and the Office of Residential services is excited to share that 27 single-stall restrooms will be converted to gender-inclusive restrooms across 16 chapter facilities.  This project began in April 2016 when Residential Services graciously offered to invest in our Greek facilities over the summer to make this change for any chapter that opted in.  This followed a campus-wide shift that took place in 2015-2016 to convert any single-stall restrooms in academic buildings to be gender-inclusive.  The terms "gender-neutral" and "gender-inclusive" are used interchangeably by Lehigh to refer to accommodations that welcome all people regardless of gender identity and expression. The project gives our chapters the opportunity to align with this inclusive practice along with the rest of the institution.  

Chelsea Fullerton, Director of the Pride Center, spoke at council meetings in the spring 2016 semester to explain the project and address any questions.  Over the summer, chapters that decided to participate worked with Brooke Hubbard, OFSA summer intern, to coordinate the logistics of conversions within their facility.  The Office of Residential Services will manage the restroom conversions, most of which will be completed before the houses open.  A handful of conversions will continue over the month of September. 

When asked why their chapter decided to participate, Scott Henry, President of Sigma Phi Epsilon, wrote “When we heard of the opportunity to convert our bathrooms to gender inclusive, it was really a no brainer. It makes life much easier and convenient for everyone. Now, no brother or guest will feel uncomfortable when using SigEp's facilities. We think it's a great opportunity to support Lehigh's initiative of creating an inclusive community.”  President of Gamma Phi Beta, Juliana DeMaria said “My chapter and I felt that gender inclusive restrooms were a great way to create a safer home for our members and guests.”  Christian Dietz, President of Phi Delta Theta, echoed DeMaria’s thoughts expressing “We want anyone visiting our house to feel welcome.”

As a Greek community, we are thrilled to support this initiative and create welcoming spaces in our facilities!