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Grand Rapids-Based Spectrum Health Converting Single-Occupant Restrooms Into Gender-Neutral Spaces

Gender neutral bathroom sign with text, "This restroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression"
sarahmirk/ Wikimedia Commons
The project begins with more than 300 single-stall restrooms at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

Spectrum Health is planning to convert its single-occupant restrooms into affirming, gender-neutral spaces.

The idea stemmed from conversations with the healthcare giant's inclusion resource groups.

President of Spectrum Health West Michigan, Dr. Darryl Elmouchi says the changes aim to promote healthcare equity for all.

"The biggest key is for us to listen and understand what the barriers are to safe care and try to help make that easier for everyone." 

Over the next several months, all-gender restroom signage will be installed in Spectrum Health facilities in downtown Grand Rapids. The project begins with more than 300 single-stall restrooms at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

In a study done by the Journal of Adolescent Health, 85% of gender minority youth surveyed who’ve experienced bathroom discrimination reported depressive moods and 60% seriously considered suicide.

“There’s clear harm associated with not having safe spaces that are deemed safe from a science standpoint," he said. "We wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were gender-affirming and that we want to make sure we’re open for business for anyone that wants to come in.”

Elmouchi is the executive sponsor of Spectrum Health's 'Happy Pride' inclusion resource group. He says he understands there's more work to be done to achieve health equity for LGBTQ+ individuals but notes the newest change is a step in the right direction.

"I’m really glad we’re doing this, but I think it’s one small step," Elmouchi said, "Over the long haul, our goal is to help deconstruct societal barriers, barriers to healthcare access and equity."

Elmouchi says he plans to continue discussions with local pride communities to find solutions to healthcare disparities across the board.

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