YMCA in Washington State: Transgender patrons must now use private locker rooms and restrooms in facilities open to children
October 7, 2015
YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap county in Washington State has rolled back their transgender open locker room policy, which had allowed access to opposite sex locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to members who had proclaimed a belief that they are “mentally” the opposite sex. The changes came about after a mother and YMCA volunteer went to the press and exposed the risks to children, and potential liability for the non-profit, that the former policy created.
“Following complaints from the public, Bob Ecklund, President and CEO of the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap county, issued a statement Oct. 5 saying the organization is modifying the policy for transgender individuals in locker rooms and restrooms in “family facilities.” Ecklund said the change was to ensure youth are not exposed to the opposite sex in their locker room.
Ecklund said the new policy states that “transgender members in transition will use private locker rooms for dressing and showering. Transgender members may use standalone restrooms that align with their gender identification. The change applies to: Gordon Family YMCA, Mel Korum Family YMCA, Lakewood Family YMCA, Morgan Family YMCA, Tom Taylor Family YMCA, Bremerton Family YMCA, Haselwood Family YMCA.
For locker rooms at “adult facilities,” transgender members may use locker rooms and restrooms that align with their gender identification. That applies to Tacoma Center YMCA and University Y Student Center.
“We understand transgender individuals who are in transition often face a dilemma on where to change and shower, and the Y strives to be a place to be safe and inclusive of everyone in our care,” Ecklund wrote.
“I want to emphasize this narrow revision of the policy is focused on dressing and showering spaces only, as they are the most sensitive spaces in our facility, especially as it relates to children.”
Ecklund noted that as a nonprofit in Washington State, YMCAs are both “employers” and “places of public accommodation,” and that they are required to comply with all laws regulating employers and places of public accommodations.
“Washington State recognizes transgender rights and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which includes gender identity,” Ecklund wrote. “We believe we are both following the law and accommodating our diverse groups of members. We also note this is an evolving area of the law, and we will continue to stay tuned to updates from Washington State.”
Read the whole story, which is very interesting and well-reported by journalist Eric Mandel here: