SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – A proposal to establish gender-neutral restrooms in Santa Fe cleared a hurdle this week.
Mayor Javier Gonzales’ initiative that would cater to transgender people barely passed May 4 before a City Council committee. The Public Works, Capital Improvements Program and Land Use Committee voted 3-2 in favor of the restrooms.
The proposed ordinance calls for businesses and government buildings to label single-occupancy restrooms as family restrooms that could be used by anyone, regardless of gender. The designation would not apply to restrooms with multiple stalls, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
The proposal includes an added provision in which the city would study how much it would cost to give family restroom signs to businesses.
“Things as simple as having a restroom facility that says `family’ on it as opposed to `men’ or `women’ at a time when they’re trying to address their own orientation or who they are can be a place of safety,” Gonzales said.
The mayor, who is openly gay, first announced his proposal during his State of the City address in February.
The close vote could be a sign that the proposal will have a hard time once it reaches the full city council June 10.
Some of the committee members who voted against the ordinance expressed concern about the burden that businesses would inherit.
“Individual businesses on their own can make this decision,” City Councilor Christopher Rivera said. “I don’t think it needs to be regulated by the city.”
Councilor and committee chairman Ron Trujillo ended up with the deciding vote. He voted in favor of it, saying the amendment went far enough in addressing concerns.
Many business owners and residents opposed gender-neutral bathrooms initially because they assumed men and women would have to share restrooms.
The proposal would not impinge on people’s privacy or affect any multi-stall bathrooms throughout the city.