Alamo Drafthouse chief Tim League took to Facebook to discuss his concept and the architectural design for gender neutral restrooms at his theater chain’s upcoming Mueller location in Austin, Texas. League’s ideas come in the wake of a heated national debate over transgender rights in schools and public life.
Close to two weeks ago, the Obama administration was embroiled in a legal standoff with North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2, part of which has to do with transgender bathroom access. Other states and local governments have attempted to draw lines around rights for transgender people with mixed results. Yesterday, news broke in Texas that its State Attorney General Ken Paxton will file a legal challenge today to President Barack Obama’s directive, which instructs school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.
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League’s pitch and designs for gender neutral bathrooms drew 1,900 likes on Facebook in the last 18 hours, as well as stirred some debate. Here’s what League had to say:
“The issue of gender neutral restrooms has gotten a bit… heated. Instead of taking sides on whether or not sexual predators will be invading the restrooms of our stores or public schools, we’ve been thinking about what an inclusive commercial gender-neutral restroom design might look like so that these challenges are not even part of the dialogue.
I’ve been working with our architect Richard Weiss for the past couple of weeks to come up with a restroom design for our upcoming Mueller location in Austin, Texas that 1) meets city codes, 2) is comfortable for all genders, and 3) gets the job done. The consensus was that we’d have a room with “standing” toilets (heck, we’re even looking at those all-gender urinals) and individual rooms with sinks, mirrors and trash cans in each room, our “seated” toilet area. I don’t want to have any “men” or “women” signs in the building.
The attached drawing is a general layout. Larger ADA accessible bathrooms would be across the hall and those would be equipped with baby changing stations.
Here’s where we are so far. I’d like to open it up to comment. We’ve got a little bit of time to figure this out, so any feedback you may have would be greatly appreciated!”
League then followed up with a second post on Facebook to clarify his position. Essentially, if we break down the barriers created by bathroom stalls, then bigotry will fall.
Posted League, “A clarification on the gender-neutral bathroom thread (there was some interesting discussion on Twitter that prompted this clarification). My intent on the previous post was to discuss architectural design details for the proposed bathroom. But as to “taking sides,” I have taken a side. My side is that bigotry and the associated violence and/or shaming stemming from your choice of stall is unacceptable. But changing that mindset is likely going to take a long time. My hope is that by changing the design of restrooms we can in the meantime avoid some potential violence.”
League is always at the forefront of issues surrounding the movie-going experience. He was one of the most vocal opponents against cell phones in movie theaters in 2011, when he established a no-cell phone policy (a voicemail from an irate female customer who was kicked out for using her cell phone at an Alamo location became part of the theater chain’s publicity for its zero-sum tolerance on mobile usage). In December 2014, League together with the Art House Convergence and George R.R. Martin sought to salvage release of The Interview on the big screen in the face of the Sony Hack crisis. League and the Art House Convergence also protested The Screening Room concept back in March, pointing out how the streaming concept wouldn’t just damage exhibition, but Main Street U.S.A. businesses related to movie-going all together.
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