A Welcoming Village

img_6486As thousands in the LGBTQ community prepare for Pride celebrations across the country, I’ll take a moment to reflect on what it means for a municipality to be welcoming and inclusive. On June 20, I proposed that the Village of Ossining become the first municipality in NYS to establish a Gender Neutral Signage Policy for restrooms. Village Corporation Counsel is drafting a resolution for us to vote on that will formalize the policy at an upcoming Village Board meeting.

For me, this is an example of when you know better, you do better. Gender neutral bathrooms came up as a topic during a recent Ossining Documentary & Discussion Series program. Panelists shared experiences of having to wait all day to find a bathroom option that welcomed them. I learned then that Ossining High School has committed to installing a gender neutral bathroom in their facility, and I realized that perhaps there is a role for Village government to play in improving the lives of transgender and gender neutral people.

We are identifying locations at Village facilities where we currently have single person bathrooms–typically these are either ADA or family bathrooms. The first signage to be updated will be in the lobby of Village Hall. As we upgrade municipal facilities going forward, when it is feasible to incorporate single person bathrooms, the gender neutral signage will be installed there as well.

This is a simple policy that sends a strong message to the LGBTQ community–all are welcome in Ossining.

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