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HLS Makes Gender Neutral Bathroom More Accessible After Concern

A bathroom in the Harvard Law School Wasserstein building.
A bathroom in the Harvard Law School Wasserstein building. By Awnit Singh Marta
By Aidan F. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writer

Two gender neutral bathrooms at Harvard Law School that were previously inaccessible for most of the day will now have 24/7 access for students, after student groups raised the issue with administrators

The bathrooms, located on the second floor of Wasserstein Hall and near Harkness Cafe, were set behind two security doors that restricted student access when the cafe—which is open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on weekdays—was closed.

The building holds other gender neutral bathrooms in the basement and in the clinical wings, but some students said they felt these locations were not sufficient.

Lambda, the BGLTQ organization for Harvard law students, and the Queer and Trans People of Color organization brought the issue of restricted access to gender neutral bathrooms to administrators last fall.

Gender neutral bathrooms are not limited to Wasserstein Hall. Both Han Park, co-president of Lambda, and Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells said that there is access to other gender neutral bathrooms on campus and this was an isolated issue.

In an interview Sunday, Park said fellow members of Lambda notified him of the inconvenient location of the bathrooms.

“What’s happening is that the only other gender neutral bathrooms in the building itself is either in the basement or they’re in the clinic wings,” Park said. “So what would happen is if somebody needs to use a gender neutral bathroom, they would either have to go all the way down to the basement to use the bathrooms or have their I.D. on them and also have the knowledge that the clinic wing is usable by students, which you don’t know unless you’re in a clinic.”

Sells said in an interview last Thursday that Lambda and QTPOC had reached out last fall and that the administration had been working with them throughout the year.

“I have heard this claim from the fall and have been working with Lambda and QTPOC all along on this,” Sells said.

Sells described possible solutions including the provision of I.D. card access to students who wished to use the bathrooms and eventual reconstruction of the doors, promising that the work would be completed by the end of the academic year.

“It will be done,” Sells said.

In an email Monday, Sells wrote that temporary construction had been completed and the bathrooms were now accessible to students.

“Work was completed this past week on temporary doors that now allow 24/7 access to the second floor Gender Neutral bathrooms near the Hark entrance. Further work will be needed in order to place permanent doors and trim, but that will happen at the end of the academic year,” Sells wrote.

While Park said he is happy the administration resolved this issue, he said he wished the resolution had been addressed more quickly.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.

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Harvard Law SchoolGender and Sexuality