After a futile semester-long legal battle to change Connecticut building codes, Yale has filed an appeal in the state Supreme Court in the hopes of adding more gender-neutral bathrooms to Yale Law School.
The petition came after the state twice denied the University’s request to count gender-neutral bathrooms towards the total number of fixtures required by the state codes. Citing transgender and gender nonconforming students’ discomfort at having to use gender-specific bathrooms, the University has been lobbying the state to lift the numerical requirements since December 2016.
“The University filed the complaint because it is the way to appeal the administrative decision that denied the request for a hardship waiver for the Law School from the existing code regarding bathrooms,” University spokesman Tom Conroy wrote in an email to the News. “Yale is hopeful it can reach a resolution with the state on the matter.”
According to the petition submitted by the University on June 23, Yale sent an appeal in February to the State Codes and Standards Committee within the Office of the State Building Inspector after the deputy inspector rejected the school’s request to change the two multiple-fixture bathrooms on the second floor of the Sterling Law Building from gender specific to gender neutral in December. Arguing on the grounds of space limitations within the Sterling Law Building and the impact new construction would have on the building’s “architecturally significant” interior, Yale claimed that the proposed change meets the intent of the Code by providing a sufficient number of bathroom fixtures and preventing discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The state committee denied the appeal in May. According to the most recent petition, the University had exhausted all administrative remedies available within the agency by the second denial and “is aggrieved by the decision.” In its appeal in June, the University alleged that “substantial rights” have been prejudiced.
Director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources Maria Trumpler, who has been dedicated to increasing the number of gender-neutral bathrooms in Yale buildings for over a decade, said she was not surprised that the University took this action.
“Yale has been fully behind this effort the whole way,” Trumpler wrote in an email.
The University is represented by Joseph Hammer SOM ’97, who has previously represented Yale in its efforts to advance plans for a new parking lot through the New Haven Board of Alders.