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    Calling for Gender-Neutral Restrooms in Oakland City Buildings

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large

    June Pride reminds us that it is important to advocate for policies that advance the rights of the LGBT community. It remains essential as ever to protect the progress that we as a community have made, especially in light of the regressive policies emanating from the federal government.

    Earlier this year, President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. Even Education Secretary Betsy DeVos initially resisted signing off on this directive, and stated that she considered it a “moral obligation” for every school in America to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

    As the rights of our transgendered community get trampled at the federal level, I am calling on the City of Oakland to ensure access to gender-neutral restrooms in City-owned buildings. Gender-specific restrooms pose serious risks to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. In a report published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4k7eaDkAjFzdF9fQjE5ZUU5eG8/view), 70% of respondents mentioned that they had been verbally harassed, denied access, or physically assaulted in public restrooms.

    As Oakland’s City Councilmember At Large, it is important to me that workers and visitors to City Hall have access to gender-neutral restrooms, in addition to the gender-specific restrooms on-site. That is why I am calling on the City Administration to provide gender-neutral restrooms in all City-owned buildings—such as City Hall—because everyone in our community deserves access to safe, convenient, and unrestricted restroom access, which makes it possible to safely and equally participate in our government and civic institutions.

    As we continue to work to be an alternative to the hate-oriented politics at the federal level, this too can be another step. The item will be heard by the Public Works Committee on July 11, which begins at 11:30 am at Oakland City Hall, 1st Floor.

    In the words of Dr. Marcy Adelman, fellow San Francisco Bay Times columnist and San Francisco Pride’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal: “I encourage everyone to wake up every morning committed to marching, writing/calling legislatures, signing petitions and attending town hall meetings in support of immigrants, all LGBT people, but especially LGBT elders and youth, people of color, Muslims, women and protection of the earth. Do this and we will transform ourselves and the country by a more deeply lived and held belief in multiculturalism.”

    Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012, and again in 2016. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Councilmember Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.