Blog: Current Events
My new friend, Marcia Bernbaum, Mentor and Advisor to the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC) in Washington, D.C., rang me up.
“Where is it?” she asked.
“Where’s what?” I replied.
“You know. The list.”
“The list?” I started to get concerned.
“THE LIST the ARA published in 2015 that catalogs the long, long rolls of the restroom challenged. It’s been a great resource for us. It has really helped us make our case for more public restrooms in our nation’s capital.”
Now with a push from many states, and an increase in teacher vaccinations, schools are truly re-opening. At last! But let’s rewind the clock a tick. Early July 2020 was a hopeful time. As Americans, we were planning for a return to some normalcy in the Fall, and for school re-openings. But that was before the summer bump in cases appeared, and before a devastating Fall and Winter. The majority of schools – especially public schools – remained closed. In July 2020, Dr. Tom Keating of Project CLEAN and the American Restroom Association ARA) released a brief article titled, “Ten Things to do NOW to get your School Ready for Students in a COVID-19 World.” Those same 10 things hold true today.
Early on in the pandemic, news outlets were flush with stories about the concerns surrounding public restrooms. People were worried that IF they went out, they’d have no place to go. Even in the best of recent times, public restrooms in the US were dismal or just plain non-existent. ARA President and Co-founder, Steve Soifer, calls them “the laughingstock of the developed world.”
This story is about the disparity of the availability of public restrooms as traditionally defined as “men’s” and “women’s” restrooms. (Again, gender-neutral and family/caregiver restrooms is a story for another day, as well.) When venues are built, builders typically do two things. First, they farm the design of the restrooms off to the newest and least experienced architects. Second, they tell the architects to do the minimum that the code requires. Building codes have for decades specified equal distribution of toilet facilities.
“Can an establishment deny me access to their restrooms?” This ranks as probably the number one most asked question to the American Restroom Association. The answer unfortunately is “yes,””no,” and “maybe.” We’ve provided some links in the copy below for your information.
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INVENTORS, MANUFACTURERS, SUPPLIERS, & SERVICE PROVIDERS: We want to hear your stories about how you are leading change in restroom design and maintenance!