Councilmember James Solomon Introduces City-Wide Gender-Neutral Bathroom Ordinance
The ordinance will build upon Jersey City’s existing Executive Order to mandate all single-stall bathrooms in the city are gender-neutral
JERSEY CITY – Councilmember James Solomon (he,him,his) will introduce an ordinance that makes all single-stall bathrooms gender-neutral in an effort to make Jersey City even more inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
Solomon’s office began work on the ordinance in 2020 to build upon Mayor Steven Fulop’s Executive Order that made all bathrooms in municipal buildings gender-neutral. Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Councilmember and local community advocates completed the draft ordinance this spring.
Wylie Tene (he, him, his), a 15 year resident of Jersey City who initially reached out to the Councilman’s office in hopes of creating this citywide legislation stated: “All over the country we are seeing laws passed to discriminate against the transgender community. Jersey City, as one of the most diverse cities in the country, has been at the forefront of inclusivity. With this new ordinance, Jersey City will be a beacon of hope to transgender folks everywhere.”
Jersey City’s LGBTQ+ leaders have pushed for meaningful legislation that makes Jersey City more inclusive. Hudson Pride Center’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Schedl (she/they) reinforced Wylie Tene’s call to action, “Many transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people avoid public bathrooms due to the harassment, violence, or threat of arrest they experience in bathrooms labeled ‘women’ and ‘men.’ It is extremely important to not only normalize gender-neutral bathrooms but to make sure that they are more widely available and accessible to all. It is not a privilege, but a human right, to be able to use a bathroom without the threat of harassment or violence.”
The ordinance was drafted to mirror Hoboken’s 2018 ordinance. If passed, existing businesses with single-use bathrooms would have sixty days from the time the ordinance goes into effect to change the signage on bathroom doors to reflect gender-neutral bathrooms. The ordinance also covers any new construction that has single-use bathrooms. Small business owner Julian Muscio (he,him,his) , who owns Luna’s in Downtown Jersey City, voiced his support “As a small business owner in one of the most diverse cities in America I strive every day to make sure my restaurant is welcoming to all people. Before this ordinance even goes into effect, I have already made the appropriate changes to the restrooms at Luna.”
The ordinance is supported by many in Jersey City’s religious community, including Grace Van Vorst Church’s Rev. Laurie Wurm. Rev. Wurm (she,her,hers) said “No one should have to stand in front of a public restroom and worry that they will be humiliated by entering it. The simple act of offering hospitality by making bathrooms clearly available to all people beginning with small, public spaces is long overdue.”
The City Council will discuss the ordinance at the next City Council Caucus on Monday, June 14th and the community will have an opportunity to sign up to publicly speak regarding this ordinance on June 30th.