FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Two restrooms at IPFW were transformed to gender neutral spots during the two-day Queer Health Conference at the university Friday and Saturday.
Notices were posted on restroom doors in Walb Student Union identifying the restrooms as “all gender” during the conference, beginning 8 a.m. Friday through 3 p.m. Saturday. The notices claim that more assaults and acts of intimidation occur in gender-specific restrooms than gender-neutral ones.
“We’re doing this not only to be welcoming and affirming, but to counteract the myth that gender inclusive restrooms are dangerous,” Director of LGBTQ Resource Center Dr. Jeannie DiClementi said. “As a matter of fact, more assaults of women occur in women only restrooms, than they do in gender inclusive restrooms.”
The issue has been the subject of debates across the Hoosier state and beyond this year. State Senator Jim Tomes proposed a bill that would make it illegal for a transgender person to enter a public restroom that does not match their gender at birth. He has said that he is worried the privacy of women and children in bathrooms is at risk as society becomes more accepting.
The free two-day “Queer Health on Campus 2016, Family Strong: Strong Families = Strong Students” conference is being held within the Walb Student Union on the IPFW campus. Organizers hope to explore the physical, mental and emotional needs and challenges of collegiate LGBTQ students.
More than 100 people pre-registered to attend the event, but others signed up when they arrived on campus. Several groups from across the region planned on traveling to IPFW for the event.
One of the speakers taking part in the event shared his story of talking with the CEO of Chick-Fil-A when the company was at the center of debate for its stance on gay marriage.
“Dan has his stance on marriage,” Executive Director of Campus Pride Shane Windmeyer pointed out.
“At the same time there’s much more to each of us, and he believes that young people should be safe, that they shouldn’t be bullied,” Windmeyer added.