Yelp Now Tracks Gender-Neutral Bathrooms for Transgender Users

Yelp Now Tracks Gender-Neutral Bathrooms for Transgender Users

Unisex Bathroom Door ADA Signs with Gender Neutral Symbol - 12" x 12" - Triangle on Circle Sign

Unisex Bathroom Door ADA Signs with Gender Neutral Symbol – 12″ x 12″ – Triangle on Circle Sign – from ADA Sign Depot

Yelp, the crowdsourced website that offers reviews of everything from restaurants to stores to churches, is adding a new way to filter its results: by the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms.

The new feature was announced on Friday, just one week after it was proposed, and represents Yelp’s latest foray into the fight for transgender rights. On Thursday, the company joined dozens of others, including Amazon, Gap, Intel and Yahoo, in signing on to a Supreme Court brief on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy seeking the right to use school bathrooms that correspond to his gender identity.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve spoken out about social issues, but this is the first time that we have married doing something on our platform around the social justice support of the L.G.B.T.Q. community,” said Rachel Williams, who leads the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

The gender-neutral bathroom filter is aimed at helping people who are transgender, who often report facing challenges in finding safe and suitable bathrooms to use.

In its 2015 National School Climate Survey, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an advocacy group, interviewed about 1,600 transgender students and reported that 70 percent had reported avoiding school bathrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

For now, Yelp is inviting users and business owners to identify establishments that offer locking, single-stall bathrooms that are available to individuals of any gender, with plans in the coming weeks to let users filter results based on that data, once enough is collected.

The idea was first proposed by the mother of an employee. The employee then passed it along to the company on Feb. 24, days after President Trump rescinded Obama-era protections that had allowed transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Motivated in part by that decision, Yelp’s product team prioritized the feature, piecing it together in four to five days, with the announcement coming just one week after the idea was proposed, Ms. Williams said.

“This administration is moving pretty fast and so this happened, the Gavin Grimm case came up, and we wanted to capture the moment,” she said.

Yelp settled on the “gender-neutral” label — instead of alternatives such as “all-gender” or “gender-inclusive” — after consulting with the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gay rights, and others, she said.

With its platform, the company may ultimately be able to assemble the largest directory of transgender-friendly bathrooms, but it is not the first to try.

Refuge Restrooms, an open-source directory, claims to have thousands of such entries. Another listing, Safe Bathrooms Club, was introduced last March in response to a North Carolina law passed that month that required transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificate.

That directory was created by Emily Waggoner and her male transgender partner River Luck, who are North Carolina natives who now live in Boston. Inspired by a series of photos of transgender-friendly businesses shared by a friend online, the pair decided to create Safe Bathrooms Club.

“We saw this via Instagram and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to see those businesses on a map?’” said Ms. Waggoner, a user interface and user experience designer.

The directory addresses a problem Mr. Luck faced most acutely during his transition over the last several years. With his gender identity at times ambiguous as he underwent hormone therapy, he found himself thrust into what felt like uncomfortable and dangerous situations.

“On several occasions, we would have to leave where we were because it wasn’t safe for me to use the bathroom there, and that was terrifying,” he said.

While Yelp’s effort may overlap with theirs, Mr. Luck and Ms. Waggoner said they don’t feel threatened. “The more ways that people can find a safe bathroom, the better,” Ms. Waggoner said.

Understanding Transgender Access Laws

California requires gender-neutral bathrooms

September 2016 | Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill requiring all single-toilet bathrooms to be gender neutral, effective March 1, the first such state legislation in the country.

The highly charged debate over transgender rights has resulted in a tangle of contradictory laws governing access to public bathrooms and locker rooms across the country. Many states permit transgender people to choose bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, considering it a civil rights issue. But in a handful of states and cities, legislators are moving in the opposite direction. Here are some milestones in the national debate.

2012 | Cities including Austin, Tex.; Berkeley, Calif.; Philadelphia; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Seattle were among the first to pass laws requiring single-user all-gender restrooms, following a pattern emerging at schools and universities. Soon museums, restaurants and even the White House (in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) began rebranding restrooms, resulting in a dizzying range of creative signage and vocabulary.

The Justice Department revises policy

December 2014 | In a memo by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Justice Department took the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to claims of discrimination based on gender identity. The memo was one of a combination of policies, lawsuits and public statements that the Obama administration used to change the civil rights landscape for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

May 2016 | The Justice and Education Departments issued guidance that, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s transgender status — and that the departments would treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

A mention by Obama

Jan. 20, 2015 | President Barack Obama mentioned transgender people in his State of the Union address, a presidential first. “That’s why we defend free speech and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” Mr. Obama said.

Houston voters reject an anti-discrimination ordinance

Nov. 3, 2015 | After a yearlong battle, Houston voters easily repealed an anti-discrimination ordinance that banned discrimination based on several “protected characteristics,” including gender identity. Opponents said the measure would allow men claiming to be women to enter women’s bathrooms and inflict harm. The message “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” on signs and in television and radio ads turned the debate from one about equal rights to one about protecting women and girls from sexual predators. (Houston became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor, Annise D. Parker, in December 2009; she had pushed hard for the ordinance.)

Many schools hesitate at bathrooms

November, 2015 | Public schools began to write policies requiring transgender students to use private changing and showering facilities, drawing complaints of discrimination.

South Dakota considers a ‘bathroom law’

February 2016 | The South Dakota Legislature approved a bill that would require public school students to use bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their biological sex, defined in the bill as “a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.” Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, vetoed it. The Legislature announced in January that it would consider a similar bill.

North Carolina bans local anti-discrimination policies

March 23, 2016 | Meeting in special session, North Carolina legislators passed a wide-ranging bill known as House Bill 2 barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that did not match their biological sex. Republicans unanimously supported the bill, while in the Senate, Democrats walked out in protest. “This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights and local autonomy,” the Senate Democratic leader, Dan Blue, said in a statement.

The bill’s passage prompted the N.B.A. to withdraw this season’s All-Star Game from Charlotte and led the N.C.A.A. to move playoff games in several sports — including first- and second-round games in its most prominent event, the Division I men’s basketball tournament — out of the state.

The federal government issues guidelines

May 12, 2016 | The Obama administration took up a legal fight with North Carolina over the issue, quickly issuing guidance — signed by Justice and Education Department officials — that was sent to all school districts, outlining what schools should do to ensure that no student was discriminated against. The letter did not have the force of law, but it contained an implicit threat: Schools that did not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal dollars. The measure attracted criticism and support from across the country.

A split emerges between Southern cities and states

Cities in the Deep South were increasingly at odds with their states on gay rights and other benchmarks, moving toward common ground with big cities on the coasts. And North Carolina, the rare Southern state that is evenly split between liberals and conservatives, was considered to be up for grabs in the November presidential race. But backlash against the law roiled the governor’s race and affected other crucial contests.

A ruling in Virginia

April 19, 2016 | A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who was born female and wanted to use the boys’ restroom at his rural Virginia high school.

Criticism from Candidate Trump

April 22, 2016 | As the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald J. Trump said that transgender people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable with. At a town hall-style event, he said that North Carolina’s legislation had resulted in an exodus of businesses and “strife” from people on both sides of the issue. “You leave it the way it is,” he said. “There have been very few complaints the way it is.”

Judge bars enforcement of guidelines

Aug. 21, 2016 | A federal judge in North Texas blocked the Obama administration from enforcing guidelines intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country. In his ruling, which he said should apply nationwide, Judge Reed O’Connor said the government had not complied with federal law when it issued “directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.” The Trump administration has decided not to challenge the injunction in court.

California requires gender-neutral bathrooms

September 2016 | Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill requiring all single-toilet bathrooms to be gender neutral, effective March 1, the first such state legislation in the country.

Texas considering legislation

Jan. 5, 2017 | A bill revealed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, would require transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings and public schools and universities based on their “biological sex,” overruling any contrary local rules, and raising the prospect of a new confrontation with college sports officials and professional sports leagues.

Trump reverses Obama rules

Feb. 22, 2017 | President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary. In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice and Education Departments rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

With Mr. Trump’s decision, the focus shifts to the Supreme Court, where Mr. Grimm’s 2016 lawsuit is scheduled for oral arguments at the end of March.

News from Guide Dogs for the Blind

News from Guide Dogs for the Blind
(ADA Sign Depot supports Guide Dogs for the Blind, Save the Children, and The Monarch School with annual donations. We invite you to learn more about these wonderful organizations and their missions.)

Michael and Hawkins: GDB guide dog team voted Kings of Winter Homecoming

Marysville High School’s Michael Molchan and his guide dog HawkinsMarysville High School’s Michael Molchan and his guide dog Hawkins are unstoppable when it comes to achieving great things. They were voted this year’s Winter Ice Kings, and Michael says Hawkins was especially excited to receive his own King K-9 sash during the homecoming ceremony. “My guide Hawkins is one of the most affectionate creatures on earth,” says Michael, “He’s always excited.” This dream team became companions on Michael’s 18th birthday, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll achieve next!

Read more about Michael and Hawkins’ partnership here. 

GDB graduate gives back to others in Connecticut

Andrea Giudice of ConnecticutHearing about the amazing work our graduates are doing is always inspiring, and Andrea Giudice of Connecticut is one such graduate. She recently spoke to the Lions Club in Windsor, Connecticut, about how her guide dogs have helped her make a difference. Andrea works at New England Assistive Technology, Connecticut’s largest provider of services for people with disabilities, and dedicates her free time to volunteering and serving on the boards of other nonprofits. Her current guide dog, a yellow Lab named Anders, helps her keep up with a busy volunteer schedule while still taking time for friends, family, and hobbies like horseback riding.

Read more about Andrea’s speech at the Windsor Lions Club here.

Trump Will Lose the Fight Over Bathrooms for Transgender Students

Bathrooms for Transgender Students

Transgender students already are subject to more violence and harassment — both by other children and by adults — than their non-transgender peers. These obstacles help explain why many transgender students drop out of school, why nearly half of transgender children have considered suicide and why a quarter of them have attempted it.

Trump Will Lose the Fight Over Bathrooms for Transgender StudentsOn Wednesday evening, the departments of Education and Justice, at the direction of President Trump, withdrew important guidance that required schools to treat transgender boys and girls like other boys and girls under Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

In a one-and-a-half-page letter, the government unceremoniously retreated from a position — that transgender students may not be excluded from restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity — which the Department of Education had held for at least four years. Despite those years of experience, the government claims that it needs to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”

But there is nothing new about the idea that sex discrimination includes discrimination against transgender people. To the contrary, courts have repeatedly reached that conclusion over the past 15 years in decisions that involve prisons, banks, the workplace and, yes, schools. That’s because it’s impossible to take into account someone’s transgender status or gender identity — their internal sense of being male, female or something else — without taking into account their sex. Indeed, transgender people are defined by the fact that their gender identity does not match the sex given to them at birth.

By insisting that more study is warranted to decide whether transgender students should be treated fairly, the government has sent a deeply concerning message to transgender students that they are less than other students, and unworthy of protection.

That would be a damaging thing for the Department of Education to do to anyone. But it is especially troubling here, given that transgender students already are subject to more violence and harassment — both by other children and by adults — than their non-transgender peers. These obstacles help explain why many transgender students drop out of school, why nearly half of transgender children have considered suicide and why a quarter of them have attempted it. What’s more, discrimination in schools has far-reaching and lifelong consequences for transgender people — psychologically and financially.

Although the letter notes that the law protects transgender students, like all students, from discrimination, bullying and harassment, requiring transgender students to use separate facilities from those used by other students is itself a form of discrimination. It’s humiliating and degrading to be told that your very presence in a restroom is unacceptable. And it’s stigmatizing to be forced to use facilities different from the ones used by everyone else.

That’s why a host of federal agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have concluded that transgender people should be allowed to use the facilities that match the gender they live every day.

Putting the government’s imprimatur on different and unequal treatment will do nothing but encourage bullying and harassment by other students, not defeat it. After all, children imitate.

The letter also falsely suggests that the departments need more time to take into account the experience of states and local school districts. But proper regard for the experience of school administrators on the ground weighs in favor of inclusion, not against it. School districts across the country that have adopted inclusive policies have enjoyed a safer and more welcoming learning environment for all students, transgender and not.

Fortunately, the president and his executive agencies cannot change what Title IX says and means. Those jobs still belong to Congress and the federal courts. The Supreme Court is about to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old boy whose Gloucester County, Va., school district barred him from using the boys’ restrooms because he is transgender. Although Gavin used those facilities — with permission from the school’s principal — for weeks without incident, the school board adopted a policy excluding him from the boys’ restrooms after some parents learned that a transgender boy was using them.

Gavin, then a sophomore in high school, displayed a hard-won maturity when he spoke at a recorded school board hearing and pleaded, “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace.” Unmoved, an adult in the community called Gavin a “freak” and compared him to a person who thinks he is a dog and wants to urinate on a fire hydrant.

A lower court has ruled in Gavin’s favor, as have most courts to consider the question. Now, the Supreme Court must soon solidify protections for Gavin and students like him across the country. Gavin’s case could neutralize the Trump administration’s cruel dispatch directed at vulnerable transgender youth. We have warned President Trump many times that we’ll see him in court, but this time, we’re already there.

Standing Up for What I Need

Trump Administration Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students

Trump Administration Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students

Disabled, Shunned and Silenced in Trump’s America

Source: The Opinion Pages, NY Times

I’ve had people make assumptions about my abilities just by looking at me. I’ve had people talk over me — or, worse, assuming I can’t communicate and directing questions about me to the people around me as if I wasn’t even there. If they actually took the time to get to know me, they’d learn a few things — that I graduated from college with honors, earned a degree in journalism and have worked as a blogger and freelance writer for nearly a decade.

Melissa BlakeI’m a woman. I’m physically disabled. And I’ve never been more scared than I am right now.

I sat there staring at my computer screen as the words “page not found” popped up on the White House website. My eyes did a double take and then my heart sank.

I felt like I’d just been punched in the gut as I realized that the Disabilities section had been removed from the site in the wake of President Trump’s inauguration. Just 12 hours before, after being sworn into office, he spoke of empowering the American people in his inauguration speech, saying: “Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the American people.”

That’s not what I heard, however, as I stared at my computer screen that night, feeling angry and defeated. What I did hear was the tiny voice that has been in the back of my mind throughout my life. It’s the one that has tried to undermine me and make me doubt myself. It’s the one that has made me question my worth and my place in society.

“You don’t matter.”

“You’re not worth it.”

“You’re not a person.”

In his campaign, and so far in his presidency, that has been Trump’s message to me. And it’s not O.K. (A search for “Americans With Disabilities Act” on the White House web page returned no matches, with the suggestion “Try entering fewer or broader query terms.” That didn’t work either. An archived version of the Obama administration’s disabilities page can be found here.)

I’ve heard people say: “Well, the Trump administration is just updating the site. All those sections will be back up.” That may be true, but is that really the point? Knowing that didn’t make the discovery sting any less for me.

Trump Mocks Disabled Reporter

Trump Mocks Disabled Reporter

As we know, the president has not merely shown a total lack of awareness of disability rights issues and of the crucial role that people with disabilities can play in an inclusive society — he has been dismissive and rude toward us. We are all familiar with his mocking of the physical appearance of the Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, as we are with his denial of the real meaning of the incident, and his refusal to apologize. On matters related to us, we’ve heard nothing since.

Though I can’t speak for Kovaleski, I do feel I can identify with him. I was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder, and had 26 surgeries by my midteens. I also majored in journalism in college and worked as a reporter. There have been times when I’ve felt like my wheelchair overshadowed everything about me and there were times where I could sense the person on the other side of the interview table was taken aback upon first meeting me. I’d hate to think that Trump’s treatment of a dedicated reporter is anywhere close to indicative of how people view the disability community.

Because of my condition, I’ve spent my life feeling overlooked, excluded and underestimated. I’ve had people make assumptions about my abilities just by looking at me. I’ve had people talk over me — or, worse, assuming I can’t communicate and directing questions about me to the people around me as if I wasn’t even there. If they actually took the time to get to know me, they’d learn a few things — that I graduated from college with honors, earned a degree in journalism and have worked as a blogger and freelance writer for nearly a decade.

In all of this, if I could speak directly to Trump I would tell him this: Words have meaning. Words have power. You wield that power every time you open your mouth, and whether you acknowledge it or not, you have a responsibility to use those words thoughtfully and wisely with people’s best interests in mind. Using them hurtfully, dismissively or with contempt will have the effect of wounding certain American citizens, and those wounds will last longer than any news conference or sound bite. The internet never forgets.

It’s 2017 and the disability community has come a long way. Yet sometimes I still feel as though we’re living in the 1950s. I often struggle with finding ways to fix this. I do know that it starts with changing the way society views those with disabilities. We can no longer be seen only as shut-ins, unable to care for ourselves. More and more of us are out there, in the world, proclaiming our dignity, demanding our basic rights — in short, living our lives. Most important, we’re not going anywhere. With about 20 percent of the population living with a disability, we’re becoming harder and harder to simply overlook.

Though it has been said before, this bears repeating. What Trump has done is bullying and shaming people in the worst possible way — by judging them. I think about young people with disabilities. Has Trump given any thought to them? What about the teenager with a disability who’s getting bullied every day at school? What about the kid who has spent more time in the hospital than on the playground? What about the young woman struggling with self-esteem issues, desperately trying to come to terms with her disability? If mocking and bullying are seen as O.K., vulnerable people with disabilities may come to believe that they deserve it. I know from experience that this is a dangerous message to send.

The truth is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of living in a country that would shun people with disabilities as if they didn’t exist. I’m afraid to live in a country that sends these kinds of messages and think it’s perfectly all right. Because it’s most definitely not all right and never will be.

If Trump really cared about giving people their power back, it would behoove him to actually sit down with members of the disability community and listen — really listen — to their stories and their concerns and their recommendations for the future.

My mantra has always been “I’m a person,” and that has never been truer than right now. Yes, I am a person. I matter. People with disabilities matter. I will never stop fighting for our rights and against bullies. I will never not be a person. I’m taking back my power and I want President Trump to know it.

New California Compliant Single-Occupant Restroom Signs & Gender Neutral Bathroom ADA Signs – New California Compliant Single-Occupant Restroom Signs & Gender Neutral Bathroom ADA Signs

California Assembly Bill No. 1732 requires single-occupancy restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and places of public accommodation to be universally accessible to all genders by March 1, 2017.

SAN DIEGO — January 26, 2016 — ADA Sign Depot announced the release of new signs meeting all requirements for the new California law requiring single-

All Gender Restroom Sign

All Gender Restroom Sign – ADA & California AB 1732 Compliant – 8″x4″ – From ADA Sign Depot

occupancy restrooms to be universally accessible to all genders by March 1, 2017.

“Business owners, property managers, schools and builders and contractors need to be aware of the new AB1732 law and it’s impact on ADA and California restroom signage,” said David Boyne, sales manager at ADA Sign Depot, San Diego. “We’ve translated the California Division of the State Architect’s sign requirements into All Gender Restroom and Unisex Restroom signs with tactile text and California Grade 2 Braille, as well as California Title 24 compliant restroom door signs, that comply with all regulations for California, federal, and state ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).”

When a business is waiting for their final occupancy approval, having to wait a week or even several weeks for California compliant signage can be an expensive delay. “While these new single-user restroom signs are not required until March 2017,” Boyne explained, “ADA Sign Depot has chosen to get ahead of demand. We are keeping these signs in stock for shipping the same or next business day, saving our customers time and money.”

Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Gender-neutral bathrooms have entered the national conversation over civil rights and privacy rights. From North Carolina to California to New York and other states, new laws and guidelines are being adopted. For years, ADA Sign Depot has been a leader in providing a full product line of All Gender, Gender Neutral, and Unisex restroom signage manufactured to meet all federal, state, and California regulations.

With allied operations in Northern and Southern California and a distributor network of warehouses nationwide, sells over 1,000 products including ADA Braille signs, handicap parking signs, and truncated domes. Boyne added, “If custom ADA or California compliant signage is needed, we have the ability to design, build and ship Braille signs in just five business days, rather than five weeks. Our stock and custom signs have never failed an inspection for errors in design, layout, materials, or craftsmanship.”

A Reputation for Consistent Excellence is the online store for the ADA Sign Depot brand. Compliance ADA signs and products from ADA Sign Depot have been available to the general public through the company’s ecommerce store since 2013.

ADA Sign Depot and its affiliated businesses provide a wide range of ADA signs and related products, including ADA and Title 24 compliant Restroom signs, Exit and Entrance signs, custom made ADA Braille signage, as well as ADA pads and truncated domes, and official regulation handicap parking signs.

ADA Compliant Signs Availability

Consumers, schools, property managers and business buyers can access the ADA Sign Depot secure online store 24/7 at:



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