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West Hollywood Law Requiring Gender-Neutral Restrooms Goes Into Effect

In Los Angeles County's West Hollywood municipality, city officials passed a law that mandates all single-stall bathrooms in businesses and public areas be gender-neutral.

Posted on January 14, 2015, at 1:11 a.m. ET


A sign marks the entrance to a gender-neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007.

A West Hollywood law that mandates all single-stall bathrooms in businesses and public areas be gender-neutral goes into effect on Thursday.

City officials said the law was intended to make public restrooms safer for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, people with disabilities or with personal attendants, and people with children of a different gender.

Existing businesses and public facilities will have 60 days to replace signs and make any needed changes to the design of the restrooms, while new buildings will have to comply immediately, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Councilwoman Abbe Land, who initiated the ordinance, said, "I hope that we can encourage other cities to adopt this. It's really so easy when you think about it, and I'm glad that we're one of the cities that is moving forward on that."

A city statement also said the law would benefit "the many people who have waited in line for a gender-specific restroom when a restroom for a gender for which they don't identify remained empty."

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California, Sept. 30, 2014. The University of California will designate gender-neutral restrooms at its 10 campuses to accommodate transgender students in a move that may be the first of its kind for a system of colleges in the U.S.

Washington, D.C., passed a similar law in 2006 and recently began threatening businesses with fines for not complying.

In 2013, Oregon's Multnomah County passed a law that requires single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms in all new construction projects, while the Philadelphia City Council passed a similar law the same year.

Gender-neutral restroom legislation stands in contrast to restrictions passed this December by a Virginia school board for gendered restrooms to only be used by students with "corresponding biological genders."

West Hollywood is a municipality. An earlier version of this post misstated the city's relationship with L.A.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.