Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon is introducing a measure next week that seeks to make all single-stall bathrooms throughout the city gender-neutral.
“All over the country we are seeing laws passed to discriminate against the transgender community. Jersey City, as one of the most diverse cities in the country, has been at the forefront of inclusivity,” said Wylie Tene, a 15-year Jersey City resident who reached out to Solomon in hopes of creating this legislation.
“With this new ordinance, Jersey City will be a beacon of hope to transgender folks everywhere.”
Solomon’s office began work on the ordinance in 2020 to build upon Mayor Steven Fulop’s 2017 Executive Order that made all bathrooms in municipal buildings gender-neutral.
Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Solomon and local community advocates completed the draft ordinance this spring.
“Many transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people avoid public bathrooms due to the harassment, violence, or threat of arrest they experience in bathrooms labeled ‘women’ and ‘men,'” added Hudson Pride Executive Director Elizabeth Schedl.
“It is extremely important to not only normalize gender-neutral bathrooms but to make sure that they are more widely available and accessible to all. It is not a privilege, but a human right, to be able to use a bathroom without the threat of harassment or violence.”
The ordinance was drafted to mirror Hoboken’s 2018 ordinance. If passed, existing businesses with single-use bathrooms would have 60 days from the time the ordinance goes into effect to change the signage on bathroom doors to reflect gender-neutral bathrooms.
Julian Muscio, who owns Luna’s in Downtown Jersey City, said he supports the ordinance.
“As a small business owner in one of the most diverse cities in America I strive every day to make sure my restaurant is welcoming to all people. Before this ordinance even goes into effect, I have already made the appropriate changes to the restrooms at Luna.”
Furthermore, the local legislation is supported by many in Jersey City’s religious community, including Grace Van Vorst Church’s Rev. Laurie Wurm.
“No one should have to stand in front of a public restroom and worry that they will be humiliated by entering it. The simple act of offering hospitality by making bathrooms clearly available to all people beginning with small, public spaces is long overdue,” she said.
The city council will discuss the ordinance at their next Caucus on Monday, June 14th and the community will have an opportunity to sign up to publicly speak regarding this ordinance on June 30th.