Unisex Restrooms Look A Little More Attractive When You’re Waiting On A Long Line

A couple weeks ago, Rainer Glaap posted a link to a news story about people in Germany advocating for unisex restrooms.  It wasn’t so much about wanting to provide spaces for people identifying with differing genders, but because the lines for the women’s room at public events are too dang long! (Article in German so you’ll have to run it through a translator if you browser doesn’t have one built in)

The waiting women agree: “It’s annoying, but what do you want to do? Well, you could make unisex toilets,” says one. “It’s not just at concerts – the women’s toilet is always full,” says another. “Personally, it wouldn’t bother me if everyone used one toilet because I notice that it’s quicker, especially in men’s toilets, and I think: Why can’t I just go to the other one?” asks another.


If women didn’t always have to go past the urinals, many people in the queue would simply go to where something was free anyway. “As far as I’m concerned, you could just have gender-neutral, shared toilets. That would be fine for me,” says a waiting woman, or: “We’ve already gone into the men’s toilet. What are we left with? A solution would be more toilets.” “I would also like unisex toilets, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

Other than the obvious observation that this issue seems to be near universal since I have posted similar stories from England as well as a history of women’s lounges, what was somewhat interesting about this story was the suggestion that the number of restrooms is limited to the official regulations for insurance reasons.

According to the regulation, for example, there must be twelve toilets for 1,000 women. However, eight toilets and twelve urinals are required for 1,000 men. So there are more sanitary installations for men in the same space.


Meeting places such as theaters or concert halls are free to build more toilets than required, but for insurance reasons they always build as closely as possible to the DIN standard and the regulation, says Illing-Moritz. The building regulations therefore urgently need to be adapted. It has long been scientifically proven that women have a greater need for toilets. With the third gender category “diverse”, an adjustment would also be needed there.

I am not quite sure what sort of hazard a venue might be flirting with by adding more toilets. I am sure many attendees would suggest there is a greater risk associated with not being able to get to a stall in a timely manner. The article also notes that people spend so much time standing online, they don’t have an opportunity to buy drinks and other things which would enhance revenue.

I would also observe that there is an increased chance these days that people will observe it is a lot easier to get into their restroom at home and stay there instead of venturing out to a performance venue. So if the opportunity presents itself to add some more accommodations to restrooms, some venues may decide it outweighs whatever issues insurance might present.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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