Friday, March 17, 2017

Need to Find a Gender Neutral Bathroom? There’s an App for That

A great deal of the controversy over transgender rights revolves around bathroom use. Some states have actually legislated who uses which gendered bathroom. And nowhere has it been a hotter topic than in schools. But nationwide recognition of transgender rights has suffered some setbacks recently. The Trump administration withdrew the Departments of Education and Justice guidance issued under former President Obama’s administration and the Department of Labor withdrew its guidance on transgender rights in the workplace. Along with that, the Supreme Court sent back to the court of appeals what many thought would be a seminal case on transgender rights, G.G. v. Gloucester County Public School Board, without ruling on the merits.

Despite these setbacks, it is evident that recognition of transgender rights continues to take root in the fabric of our society and the issue of which bathroom people may use is still at the forefront of public facility access for transgender individuals. Naturally, now there’s an app for that.

Many people use the app Yelp to find good restaurants and other services in the neighborhood. Now Yelp is unveiling a new feature aimed at helping members of the LGBTQ community. The company has announced that it will enable its app to help people locate gender neutral bathrooms available to the public. Like other features of the app, Yelp is asking businesses to provide the data on locations of gender neutral bathrooms for app users to search directly. Yelp defines a gender neutral bathroom as one that is available to anyone, regardless of gender, that has a locking, single stall. Yelp, by the way, also signed an amicus brief in support of student, G.G., the plaintiff in the now famous school bathroom case, the transgender student who was denied access to the male bathroom at his school.