Safe restroom sign not so safe on campus

Safe restroom signs put up by the GSA promoting inclusivity have caused controversy around MCCC.

These signs were put up by the Gender & Sexuality Alliance in Fall 2023 after students approached them about harassment occurring in the restrooms toward transgender individuals. The signs state the bathrooms are for everyone, and request that nobody will be asked to leave.

The signs were initially posted in March 2019 by the GSA and advisers Melissa Grey, professor of psychology, and Jenna Bazzell, associate professor of English.

Safe restroom signs made by the GSA have repeatedly been taken down

Grey said they contacted maintenance, facilities and human resources about the posting of these signs. She said the previous HR director, Molly McCutchan, reviewed the signs, gave feedback and approval before they were posted.

Kojo Quartey, president of MCCC, said he doesn’t remember being aware of these when they were put up.

“I do not recall being made aware of these signs in 2019,” Quartey said in an email. “A lot has happened since 2019 and I was informed of these signs by an external group close to the end of last year.”

Bazzell said they assumed they would be able to safely post these again in Fall 2023 since neither of them had heard of the approval being rescinded. However, Grey said students were slowly noticing the signs disappear without any warning, so they continued to put the signs up.

“In October, we posted signs, students repeatedly noticed they were disappearing, and so we were reprinting, posting, reprinting, posting– October, November, December,” Grey said.

Bazzell said despite being the advisers of GSA, they were never directly contacted about the removal of the signs.

Grey said after these were taken down, she and Bazzell put up banners in the L Building to assess the response. 

Grey said they began an initiative, Respect the Restrooms 2024, through the banners. She said MCCC policy permitted the banners to be posted on unapproved surfaces.

However, Bazzell said these banners were taken down Jan. 29, the day a statement was released to employees about restroom access.

Grey said they received confirmation from security personnel that the administration had requested they be taken down.

Following the removal of these, MCCC released a statement to all students on Jan. 31. In this, they said they support students using the bathroom they feel comfortable in.

“The single use/gender-inclusive restrooms are for anyone who prefers to use them, and the college supports the option of individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity,” the statement said.

Quartey said following the removal, the GSA will be meeting with the Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success, Scott Behrens, to come up with a compromise.

The Agora submitted a FOIA request for Title IX complaints on Jan. 31. The college responded Feb. 6, notifying the staff that the request was extended 10 business days, which was not in time for the publication deadline.