Building Operating Management

Gender Neutral Restrooms: Re-thinking Signage



Icons are a universal language that can complement inclusive messaging


By BOM Editorial Staff   Plumbing & Restrooms

gender-neutral restroom doorPhotos courtesy of Ark-HLW

The use of well-designed graphics and signage in restroom design are a low cost, high impact way to reaffirm a business’s commitment to inclusiveness and acceptance among their employees, clients, and visitors.

These restrooms in the corporate interior of a life sciences organization were retro-fitted to be gender-neutral. Catherine Kirk Kucharek, Environmental Graphic Designer, and Chanel Dehond, Creative Director, Communications and Visual Design at Ark-HLW used signage and icons that allowed anyone to enter whatever restroom they chose, but inform them on what they might see or encounter inside.

Make it easy for visitors

Gender-neutral restroom
When restrooms are segregated, and someone needs to go, they want to be able to find the restroom quickly. It’s a problem to have to read every small sign looking for it, especially when in an unfamiliar place. These gender-neutral restrooms use icons with the addition of inclusive text to let people choose the facility based on how they identify. Photos courtesy of Ark-HLW

Icons are a universal language

Gender-neutral restroom door with icons showing the fixtures and equipment provided in each restroom
Pictograms are an effective, universal and established wayfinding tool. For a gender-neutral restroom, icons are used to show the fixtures and equipment provided in each restroom. For example, icons of sinks and toilets for the former women’s rooms, and sinks, toilets, and urinals for the former men’s rooms. Photos courtesy of Ark-HLW


Inclusive, but effective, communication

Gender-neutral restroom signage
The true function of a sign is to communicate. In many places, those signs need to stand on their own and direct people effectively. The simplest way to show support and understanding is to add text such as, “Please use the restroom that you identify with,” and designate gender-neutral, or all gender restrooms. Photos courtesy of Ark-HLW




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  posted on 6/4/2021   Article Use Policy




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