Feb. 27 2019 08:55 AM

Policy a nod to trans rights in public buildings


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27 — The Ingham County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening, by 12-0 vote, approved a progressive resolution that allows all people regardless of gender to use the bathrooms of their choice in county-operated buildings, whether single-stall or bigger facilities. The motion passed without any discussion or objection.


Commissioner Ryan Sebolt crafted what he called a “common sense” policy to help promote continued equality.


“I just thought it was time to make sure our residents and employees have full access to the facilities of their choice,” Sebolt added. “It seemed like a simple resolution to move forward. It’s about recognizing the dignity of every human being who visits or works for the county. It’s a small change, but I think it’s a meaningful one.”


The policy ensures everyone access to the bathroom of his or her choice, regardless of the gender labels on the door. It would also keep several dozen, single-stall bathrooms open to all and will lead to additional, gender-neutral signage at some facilities. Sebolt anticipates any eventual installation costs to be “negligible.”


The resolution unanimously passed through a committee last week; it passed through Tuesday’s meeting on the consent agenda — a space typically reserved to push through non-controversial resolutions without discussion. Sebolt said the sense of inclusion for both employees and visitors will be priceless.


Representatives from the Lansing Association for Human Rights lauded the motion; Nobody spoke in opposition as it moved forward.


“Creating a proactive policy that allows transgender people to access the restroom is a no-cost way to alleviate violence, decrease comfort and fears and increase the use of public spaces,” said LAHR President Zekiye Salman.


Commissioner Emily Stivers said LGBTQ rights have been an important part of her political platform for years. In the absence of existing language to address county facilities, she labeled Sebolt’s resolution as the “logical next step in terms of providing equal opportunities” within Ingham County. The rest of the commission agreed.