Project: Gender Inclusive Mapping for Harvard University
Team: Alexis Stokes, Rachel DiBella, Jessica Halem, Sheehan Scarborough, Andrew Westover
Schools/ Units Represented: HMS, SEAS, TIX/OPP, GSAS, Harvard College
- What are we trying to accomplish? Why and for whom is this important?
The Gender Inclusive Mapping project for Harvard University seeks to ensure that all Harvard community members and guests, including those who are transgender, gender non-binary, and gender nonconforming, have accurate and inclusive means of locating rest facilities when at Harvard. Specifically, the project would inventory and discreetly communicate, via a mobile/web application, where gender neutral and/or inclusive restrooms are located across every building on Harvard’s Cambridge and Boston campuses.
The Gender Inclusive Mapping project aims to develop a School approved inventory of inclusive bathroom spaces that can be displayed on an interactive map of Harvard’s campuses. Information about bathrooms present in a building and descriptions of their locations will be shown by clicking on or searching for buildings. The inventory will be hosted on a customized version of the Harvard Interactive Map and/or via a downloadable application, such as Inclusive U (See, http://diversity.utexas.edu/inclusive-u/), to be managed by the Harvard Planning Office.
- Why should we do this? What is the benefit?
It is well-documented that transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals face disproportionate rates of harassment, especially in spaces like rest facilities. According to the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than half (59%) of respondents avoided using a public restroom that year because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems they might experience. The same survey indicated that nearly half (46%) reported having experienced verbal harassment in the past year.
In a 2017 survey of 153 LGBTQ student experiences at Harvard, 29% of open-text responses to the question “Do you feel safe at Harvard?” cited hostility to gender-nonconforming community members as a factor that contributed to feeling unsafe. Among responses characterizing such experiences were “Buildings need more gender-neutral restrooms,” “I am completely closeted as a genderqueer person… because my department can’t handle that,” and “Being told [we] can’t use the bathroom that matches [our] gender identity.”
Thus, responsive resources that increase accessibility and combat marginalization for valued members of the Harvard community will benefit those most directly affected and improve the climate of inclusion for all.