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Denver's getting gender-neutral bathrooms

Denver is changing a long-standing bathroom rule that will give people more options of places to go.

Have you ever been tempted to use a bathroom marked for another gender? Maybe there's too long of a line and it's an emergency.

Denver is changing a long-standing bathroom rule that will give people more options of places to go.

The city and county is getting gender neutral bathrooms but it isn't going to cause a statewide bathroom fight like in North Carolina. The change only applies to single-stall bathrooms, not the ones that are shared.

"I think there's a lot of power behind that sign," said Denver City Councilman Jolon Clark.

The council voted unanimously Monday after nine months of work to do away with gender-specific signs for single-stall bathrooms.

"These are bathrooms that have a toilet, a sink, you can walk in, you can lock the door, you're the only person in there," said Clark.

That means multi-stall bathroom signs won't be touched and there are no plans to make that change.

It's a simple sign swap but will give people more options on where to go when you have to go.

In public places like coffee shops or gas stations, if there is only one restroom, it already is marked as gender-neutral. That means it most likely has a sign with a male and female symbol. If there are two single-stall restrooms, the Denver ordinance stated one must be marked male and the other female.

That is no longer the case.

"It's really a simple fix. But what I think is most important is that it has some big impacts," said Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado.

One Colorado is an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality.

Ramos said the bathroom sign topic first came up in Denver's LGBTQ Commission but will have a wide reach to different communities.

"Folks living with disabilities, caregivers for the elderly or for children but also for transgender people, and I think anyone that simply wants to use a bathroom," he said.

It may make it easier for dads with daughters, mothers with sons or someone who just really needs to use the facilities.

"We also left the ordinance very non-prescriptive on what that sign had to look like," said Clark. "As long as I when I walk up to that, no matter who I am, I understand there's a toilet in there, and if I need a toilet I can use it, then we left it open to how people sign."

Businesses and other areas with public restrooms have until May 2018 to make the sign change. All new construction will have to put up the new signs immediately.

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