AAU Student Council announced that the men’s restroom on the second floor would be replaced by the first gender-neutral restroom on the AAU campus on 15 September.
Q-Club’s latest project was the addition of an inclusive restroom on campus, with the intention of stopping students from feeling forced to choose a restroom that does not reflect their gender identity. The design of the restroom will not change, as it will still have a stall, a urinal, and extras, namely menstrual products.
“Access to a restroom is, like, a basic human right. It doesn’t matter what you identify as or with… If you gotta pee, you gotta pee,” said AAU student Michael Watkins.
Non-gender conforming and non-binary students say they have felt some discomfort when using the newly labeled bathroom, which was formerly the men’s room, when male students walk in and get confused.
“Because it was a male bathroom before, a lot of the male students haven’t got the memo yet and have been confused when female-presenting people have walked into the bathroom,” said Queer Club President Marisa Mikels.
Michael Watkins added that the confusion could have been avoided by sending out a mass email from AAU or making another big announcement, as many students didn’t know that the change had been made. The bathroom sign is currently a piece of paper and not all students follow the Student Council Instagram page. Other than this small confusion amongst a few students, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
Queer Club brought up the idea to Student Council President Simone Stansbury, who then proposed the concept to an eagerly agreeing student council. The students took action almost immediately, and the restroom is currently awaiting a new sign.
“I am nonbinary, so having a place that is dedicated for someone who is not either female or male has been very supportive, welcoming, and really important for me personally,” said Queer Club Vice President Louie Banks.
Since its founding, the AAU Queer Club has been actively involved in advancing equality in Prague and on campus. In November 2021, the Q-Club’s bake sale fundraiser smashed their goal by raising 16,000 CZK for Trans*parent, a Czech Trans Rights Organization. The November 2022 bake sale to raise money for Sbarvouvan, a nonprofit queer resource center, raised 4,000 CZK. Sbarvouvan’s sponsor, ČSOB, doubled the contribution.
The International School in Prague announced its unisex bathrooms in November 2021, meaning AAU is not the first school in Prague to implement gender-neutral restrooms. Despite the increase in inclusivity and diversity in international universities in Prague, Czech society has a binary view of gender and gendered language.
Regardless of the existence of laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, a nonbinary person’s request to change the gender identity option on their state identification was turned down in a Czech court case.
The AAU Queer Club is always looking for new members, including queer students and allies. Every other Wednesday, they meet in Room 3.26 on campus. Keep an eye out for their upcoming events, such as Movie and Trivia Nights.