Federal employees are all too aware of the importance of pay parity. But Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., has set his sights on ending a different inequality: Potty parity.
Towns on March 17 introduced the Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act — or as he called it, the Potty Parity Act — which seeks to ensure men and women have equal access to toilets in federal buildings. Towns’ bill, HR 4869, would require any newly constructed, purchased or renovated federal building to have at least a one-to-one ratio of toilets in women’s and men’s restrooms. It would allow buildings to have more women’s toilets than men’s toilets.
The bill counts urinals as toilets too, so a building can’t get away with installing a token toilet bowl in each gender’s restroom and then adding a slew of urinals for the guys.
If passed, the bill would also require an agency trying to rent a building to give preference to a building with potty parity.
Towns, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said many federal buildings lack enough women’s rooms because they were constructed decades ago, when fewer women traveled and worked outside of their home.
“Our nation’s history shows that the structure and accessibility of American public restrooms have served as manifestations of more deeply rooted problems of discrimination, among race, physical ability and gender,” Towns said. “In 2010, we must move the clock forward by finally addressing an overdue problem of unequal, inadequate and inaccessible public restrooms for women.”
Potty parity isn’t just an issue for American federal buildings. In 2008, the World Toilet Organization hosted a World Toilet Summit and Expo that discussed, among other issues, the lack of women’s toilets in buildings around the world.
And toilet equality knows no political boundaries: Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on Towns’ committee, is one of the bill’s cosponsors.
UPDATE: A hat tip to FedLine reader Robin Cole, who posted a great solution to the problem on our Facebook page:
I think we’re all missing the unspoken solution to this parity: unisex restrooms a la “Ally McBeal.” Soooo much hilarity ensued in there with Ally and the Biscuit, that guy from “Ned and Stacey.”
…hilarity, might I add, that the government lacks. Now THAT would make the Fed cool.