Philadelphia, Sept. 10, 2015 – Councilman Mark Squilla (1st District) on Thursday introduced legislation on behalf of the Nutter Administration that would require existing and future single-stall restrooms to be designated gender-neutral. Many single-stall restrooms in city-owned facilities are already designated gender neutral under landmark LGBTQ rights legislation signed into law in November 2013. The legislation introduced by Councilman Squilla would extend the inclusivity requirement to privately owned facilities.
“I am pleased to introduce legislation that will reinforce Philadelphia’s earned reputation for being the most LGBTQ-friendly city in the nation,” Councilman Squilla said. “All people, regardless of gender identification, deserve to be able to meet their basic needs with dignity and safety. As Philadelphia prepares for the World Meeting of Families and the 2016 Democratic National Convention, both of which will be watched by the world, we should send a message declaring that all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, are welcome.”
“Philadelphia is a world-class, welcoming city that proudly celebrates the diversity of our residents and communities. It is our inclusive practices and commitment to equality that makes our city truly great,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said. “This bill, which expands and strengthens gender-identity protections, is an important step in support of our LGBT community and reinforces Philadelphia’s role as a leader on LGBT issues across the country. I am proud that Philadelphia is one of the largest cities in the nation to introduce this kind of legislation and I want to thank Councilman Squilla for introducing this bill on our Administration’s behalf.”
The proposed ordinance would amend the Philadelphia Code to require establishments open to the public to designate single-occupancy restroom facilities as available for use by any person by way of gender-neutral signage. Existing signage designating gender usage, whether through art work, language or design, must be replaced or supplemented with signage that clearly indicates the restroom is available for use by anyone. The Department of Licenses and Inspections will oversee enforcement. The ordinance will take effect 90 days after being signed into law.
The City of Philadelphia will promote awareness about the legislation through the #freetoPHL campaign. If the ordinance is approved by City Council and signed into law by the Mayor, members of the public will be encouraged to use the #freetoPHL hashtag on social media in order to alert the City, via @Philly311, about facilities that are not in compliance, as well as to promote facilities that offer all-gender restrooms.
Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, added: “I am very grateful for the support and leadership of Mayor Nutter and Councilman Mark Squilla in ensuring that single occupancy restrooms provide access for everyone without the need for any gender distinction throughout our entire City. This bill has the very simple, yet vital effect of opening doors to necessary and private spaces for a multitude of citizens. My office will work to investigate and resolve any reported violations through outreach and education to the offending space, creating positive change and growth in our city. Today, Philadelphia’s longstanding and proud tradition of continued work towards true equality and inclusion continues.”