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The Multiple Occupancy Bathroom of the Future?

April 26, 2016

The bathroom has been a national hot spot of discussion, particularly since North Carolina’s HB 2 was signed into law on March 23, 2016.

In short, NC’s HB 2 maintains that “single sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities” in schools and public agencies are to be reserved for persons of a specific biological sex “as stated on a person’s birth certificate.”

The heated reaction regarding biologically separate, multiple occupancy restroom facilities in public schools and other public buildings appears to have two principal camps: Those who support individuals who identify as transgender as being able to use a public restroom of the gender with which they identify, and those who wish for safety/privacy issues to retain usage of multiple occupancy bathrooms based on biological sex.

My purpose in this post is not to discuss this profound reaction to HB 2. (Feel free to read  here, and  here, and  here, and  here— and also  here, and  here, and  here, and  here).

Instead, in this post, I turn my attention to the multiple occupancy public restroom facility of the not-so-distant future. Like, now.

Whether HB 2 is repealed or not, I believe that the national publicity surrounding the issue is going to alter public restroom design. That might sound funny, but I anticipate that architects and designers of public buildings are already trying to design a multiple occupancy restroom that is able to transcend concern.

I have seen multiple occupancy restrooms in some restaurants and truck stops in which the stall is designed like a little room– it is the size of a stall, yet it has a regular door with a door knob and solid walls. When the door is closed, there is no way for another person to enter by climbing over or under. I have seen some such stalls that have only a few inches of opening at top and bottom; still others are completely enclosed, like a room.

Privacy and safety for any and all individuals in their most vulnerable “I gotta go” moments– and in a multiple occupancy restroom capacity.

The bathrooms described above all had a common wash area that one enters and exits by a common door– the usual open area in a multiple occupancy restroom. This area the future-minded architects and building designers might retain. However, I also envision a design in which the common area for hand washing is actually an open area– no doors necessary to enter or exit.

And urinals– well, I think those could be on their way to extinction. (I once saw a men’s room converted to a women’s room and the urinals holding floral arrangements. Creative.)

I believe that America is able to conquer the bathroom, and our architects and building designers might just be the ones to help us move forward.

bathroom sign


Coming June 2016 from TC Press:


school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → Legislation

  1. Not common, but they’ve had them in Europe for years. They are called Unisex bathrooms.

  2. Another comment !
    If these become popular the North Carolina wackos will find something else to make stupid laws about.

  3. EnB Cee permalink

    High end hotels and theaters in CA already have bathroom stalls like this. Must be to prevent paparazzi from snapping pics.

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Also possible to make all “family rooms.”

  5. Dienne permalink

    That might solve the bathroom problem, but there’s still the lockerroom problem. Many healthclubs, pools, YMCAs, etc. don’t have the real estate to offer single-occupancy shower, bathroom and changing stalls with floor-to-ceiling walls so changing (and, usually, showering) is done en masse in an open room or, at best, in small stalls with curtains.

    It also avoids the real issue which is that transgender men are men and transgender women are women who are using such facilities to address their own needs, not to peep at people of the opposite gender. If people don’t want men in the ladies’ bathroom or locker room, they had best allow transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they identify with because every transgender man I’ve ever met is plenty masculine and would scare the bejeebers out of ladies who have issues with men in their bathroom. Also, preventing transgender men from using the men’s room actually would be more threatening to women because any man who wants to go in the ladies’ room and get a glimpse (which is what they’re allegedly so afraid of) could do so more easily with this law simply by claiming, “Hey, I’m transgender, but the law requires me to use this bathroom”. No dress required.

  6. 2old2tch permalink

    How many people think that some transgender people have not already been using the bathrooms of the opposite biological sex?

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