Today in uplifting statistics: There are more than 160,000 businesses in the U.S. with gender-neutral bathrooms, according to data provided by Yelp. A gender-neutral bathroom is a "locking, single-stall bathroom," Rachel Williams, head of diversity and inclusion at Yelp, wrote in a blog post in March, when the platform first began tracking restaurants and other businesses with gender-neutral bathrooms.
"Adoption of the feature is still pretty new since it only launched in March but it's growing steadily," Rachel Walker Youngblade, senior public relations manager at Yelp, said in an email. Yelp also announced that the gender-neutral information will be available through Yelp's API — so developers could, conceivably, integrate the data into apps that locate the closest gender neutral bathroom.
These are the types of businesses with gender-neutral bathrooms
While Yelp declined to provide a full breakdown of how many restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and other businesses have gender-neutral bathrooms, the company did provide a category breakdown of the types of businesses that have gender-neutral bathrooms.
Restaurants have more gender-neutral bathrooms than any other type of business, followed by beauty services and then health-related businesses. However, Yelp did not provide any data to contextualize the statistics — it's unclear what percent of all restaurants in the U.S. have gender-neutral bathrooms.
Why gender-neutral bathrooms promote equality
Gendered bathrooms have been a hotly debated subject in recent years, with many GOP politicians pushing for legislation that requires people to use gender-segregated restrooms corresponding with the gender they were assigned at birth. That means some transgender people might not be able to use restrooms that match their gender identity.
But Yelps' feature helps people find single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms so that people can use a restroom, no matter what the law is.
Some businesses are even having some fun with their signage. Twitter user Ryan Chapman posted a photo of a mermaid and centaur bathroom sign that reads "Whatever, just wash your hands" from Redstart Coffee in Kingston, New York.
Naja Lightfoot posted another bathroom sign that reads "everyone."
"As a trans person who doesn't fit neatly into the gender binary, if I could change the world tomorrow to make it easier for me to navigate, the very first thing I would do is blink and create single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms in all public places," Ivan Coyote, a transgender writer and performer, said in a TED Talk in February 2016.
Thanks to Yelp, Americans might be one step closer to Coyote's dream.