Mary Angel Hernandez is studying biotechnology at the University of Houston-Downtown. As a working student, she has a lot on her mind, and as a transgender female, she says worries about her safety while doing something many people take for granted -- using a public restroom.
"There's always an opportunity, a chance for other people who do not fully understand what transgender is to take it in an aggressive way," Hernandez said.
She testified in favor of an initiative to bring gender-neutral restrooms to the campus, where a person of any gender identity, or sexual orientation, can feel comfortable. The measure passed unanimously and has the support of the UH-D faculty.
"It makes a statement about who we are in our valuing of diversity, our pride in our diversity," said Dr. John Hudson with the campus' Center for Student Diversity.
The first of five gender-neutral restrooms will open next month. Each will display male and female symbols as well as a baby-changing symbol for parents. It will also have a safe zone symbol that tells students of all sexual orientations and gender identities that this is a safe restroom.
Hernandez says it's a step that will allow future students to know that all are welcome here.
"Life is a mountain and you've just got to climb and climb, but the higher you get, the better the view," she said.
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