GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spectrum Health is converting single-occupant restrooms in Grand Rapids from gender assigned to inclusive, affirming, gender-neutral spaces.
The goal is to create a more welcoming environment and to eliminate fear of discrimination for LGBTQI+ team members, patients and visitors, according to a news release Monday.
Over the next several months, all-gender restroom signage will be installed in Spectrum Health facilities in downtown Grand Rapids.
The project will begin with more than 300 single-stall restrooms at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
Other locations include those at 25 Michigan, 35 Michigan, 145 Michigan and 221 Michigan.
“Spectrum Health is looking to celebrate this progress as one more step in being a gender-affirming organization,” said Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “We are hopeful that this initiative will provide the LGBTQI+ community and their loved ones and supporters with a more welcoming, positive experience.”
Spectrum Health looked at research and guidance from multiple sources when making this decision.
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration, for example, advises that restroom access is a health and safety matter and that the best workplace policies provide options that include single-occupancy, gender-neutral facilities.
Lack of affirming spaces can negatively impact the mental health of those in the transgender and non-binary communities, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
That study showed that among gender minority youth who experienced bathroom discrimination, 85% reported depressive moods and 60% seriously considered suicide.
Minority stressors in the workplace, including lack of access to an affirming restroom, are associated with greater distress and lower job satisfaction, another study found. Ensuring safe and easy restroom access for all individuals who use our facilities is one way to help reduce minority stress.