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Gender Inclusive Mapping Project Developing App With Guide to Harvard’s Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Harvard's Gender Inclusive Mapping Project plans to design a web-based app to help members of the Harvard community easily locate gender inclusive restrooms.
Harvard's Gender Inclusive Mapping Project plans to design a web-based app to help members of the Harvard community easily locate gender inclusive restrooms. By Amy Y. Li
By Isabella E. Peña, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Gender Inclusive Mapping Project, a group backed by multiple Harvard offices, plans to design a web-based app to help members of the Harvard community easily locate gender inclusive restrooms.

The group aims to protect transgender, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people, who may avoid using public restrooms for fear of discrimination and harassment. The app will provide information on restroom access that users can view discreetly.

The initiative is working in partnership with the Office of the President and Provost, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Title IX Office, the Medical School, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the College, the Divinity School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Planning Office, and more.

Caysie C. Harvey, co-chair of the team and the University’s Associate Title IX coordinator, said that the project “sought to ensure that all Harvard community members, including those who are transgender, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming, have accurate and inclusive means of locating restrooms at Harvard.”

In 2016, a gender neutral bathroom sign was damaged and defaced with sexist and transphobic graffiti. Around two months later, the College announced that it will outfit all 12 of its residential houses with gender neutral bathrooms by the conclusion of its ongoing house renewal project.

The mapping project has four working groups: signage, inventory, mapping technology, and promotion and communication.

The signage working group took a look at all existing signage at Harvard and its peer institutions, held focus groups to hear affiliates’ goals for the project, and drafted a recommendation. The inventory working group took stock of all previously existing inclusive restrooms, and also identified plausible spaces for supplemental gender-inclusive restrooms.

Meanwhile, the mapping technologies working group analyzed current mapping of inclusive restrooms, solicited feedback from affiliates, and determined the most effective mapping technology for the project. As the project leadership reviews the mapping technology group’s recommendations and coordinates with the Harvard Planning Office, the promotion and communication team will spearhead a public awareness campaign.

Harvey said that the project has been a community-driven effort to make Harvard more inclusive.

“We continue to be heartened by the enthusiasm of local building managers who assisted in confirming the accuracy of our data. It was genuinely a community-wide effort grounded by our collective responsibility to promote inclusivity,” Harvey said. “This project is meant to be iterative and a community-wide collaboration, as there are updates made to restrooms across campus, we will continue to partner with building managers to update our Gender Inclusive Restroom Mapping site.”

The online interactive map will be launched by this Spring for members of the Harvard community.

—Staff writer Isabella E. Peña can be reached at isabella.peña@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @isapenamusic.

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CollegeStudent LifeLGBTTitle IX