Support resources for media and
legislative staff researchers
'Potty Parity' refers to advocacy efforts and actual legislation
that addresses the longer lines for women often
seen at public restrooms.
Women's queues are often seen at
venues where the toilet fixture were allocated according to out-of-date building
codes. These codes mandate a minimum number of toilet fixtures for various
occupancies, which are based on complex formulas and
The code used in older buildings typically mandate an equal
number of toilet fixtures for women and men rather then the
'necessary' number of fixtures for both sexes. Older code
also does not address surge
periods in toilet usage at large venues; for example during the the 7th inning stretch at baseball
game. Even the current code used by many States does not address the
problem women face at small venues with a single women's toilet.
One mom, walking in with her small children can have the toilet locked
for 5 - 10 minutes which often causes a queue waiting for the door to
open. Potty parity legislation,
typically, has tried to address these problems by
mandating twice as many toilets for women as for men.
PROBLEMS WITH GENDER PARITY LEGISLATION.
A legislated female:male 'ratio, typically
2 to 1, has serious deficiencies. First, it conflicts with
State-mandated building codes
The latest building codes address
'toilet need' with direct counts rather than ratios. Worse, for
certain venues the latest code mandates ratios higher than 2 to 1 leading to the
ironic situation of potty parity legislation reducing the required
toilet fixtures for women. Adding 'no less than' language
can result in a significant excess
fixtures reserved for female use. This might occur, for
example, in an all-male school dormitory or a prison block.
A second problem is that rather then adding additional
toilets, often male restrooms are converted to female use. Rather
then removing queuing for everyone, it results in a shift to
longer lines for men.
A front page story in the April 12, 2009 New York Times entitled "New
Ballpark Statistic: Stadiumís Toilet Ratio" provides
interesting examples of proper building code implementation and it also
caused by 'ratio' legislation.
The American Restroom Associations recommends 'potty parity'
legislation that has a three-fold goal.
First, ensure that the required 'minimum
number of toilet fixtures' in the latest building code
provide the necessary number of toilet facilities for everyone. The two major sources of 'toilet
provisioning code', are the International
Plumbing Code and the Uniform
Plumbing Code. For most venues, the
toilet minimums provided in the 2009 version of these codes will
eliminate queuing for either sex. Legislation
may be required to address building code weakness for
a few remaining critical popular public venues. For
example, the IPC requires 1 toilet for women in a restaurant that could
accommodate up to a 150 people (the UPC
requires 3). In a store designed to accommodate
1000 customers and employee's, the IPC still mandates only 1 female
toilet. (the UPC requires between 4 to 8).
Second, bring older buildings up to the 'minimum number of toilet fixture'
required in the latest code.
A third objective of this legislation should be to increase
the use of unisex toilets
where feasible. Unisex facilities provide intrinsic potty parity.
Small restaurant, for example, often have 1 men's and 1
women's toilet. Making them both unisex would reduce the chance of
waiting for everyone.
ARA POTTY PARITY CODE DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT
ARA technical support for changes proposed to
correct potty parity IPC deficiencies via the ICC
2010 Code Development Cycle.