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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Linsey pool center implements gender neutral locker rooms

Published: November 9, 2012
Section: Features

Rather than provide changing facilities strictly divided between males and females without consideration given to differing sexual orientations, the university athletics department recently implemented gender-inclusive locker rooms at the Linsey Pool Center. Deemed a proactive measure by Athletic Director Sheryl Sousa, the changing rooms are currently available for use.

According to Sousa, prior to the creation of gender-inclusive locker rooms, the Linsey pool center, which was constructed in 1967, possessed only two entrances to the pool deck through the distinct male and female changing rooms. Recognizing the potential discomfort this may pose for members of the Brandeis community, the athletic center sought to create facilities that would remedy the situation.

Acknowledging the innovative nature of this approach, Sousa stated, “I believe Brandeis is ahead of our peers in this area and especially with universities who have older buildings like ours.”

Despite the proactive nature of these facilities, however, Sousa reveals that due to the building’s structural design, “access to the gender inclusive locker room requires assistance of the lifeguard on duty to open an exterior door that leads directly to the pool deck.” She encourages students wishing to use the gender inclusive locker rooms to contact Jessamine Beal, staff member at the Intercultural Center for assistance.

As a proactive measure, the recent creation of gender inclusive changing rooms supplements numerous services available on campus for students of varying sexual orientations. For example, The Queer Resource Center, founded in 2003 as a branch of Triskelion, was “designed to provide support to the queer and allied community,” according to an anonymous representative from the organization.

In collaboration with other campus organizations such as STAR, SSIS and PERC, the Queer Resource Center participated in Campus Cares, an event encouraging students to utilize diverse resources on campus. Despite this collaboration, a representative from the club emphasized the unique services provided by the Queer Resource Center, stating, “The main difference between the QRC and other counseling organizations on campus is that our main focus is on LGBTQA+ issues and as such the majority of our training is spent going into great depth on queer topics, whereas other groups focus more on topics relating specifically to their organization, for instance, sex and sexual health for SSIS and relationships for STAR.”

In the past, the Queer Resource Center has organized informational sessions in first-year residence halls, presenting educational information such as the distinction between sexuality and gender among other topics. According to the source, however, the club is currently in the process of revising this program in hopes of implementing a new version by the end of November.

In order to become a member of the Queer Resource Center, candidates are required to undergo extensive training sessions grappling with a range of diverse topics and issues. An example, according to the representative, “program QRC staffers receive training in supporting and counseling people of all identities, including but not limited to Trans* (the Transgender umbrella), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Asexual, Queer, Intersex, BDSM, Kink, Polyamory and Allies.”

Beyond providing support to members of the queer community, the resource center also extends its services to suicide prevention, self harm, domestic violence and sexual assault. According to the representative, “all staffers are trained in supporting individuals who may be dealing with any of these issues and more.”

Despite the current need to request entrance to the gender inclusive changing rooms, which Sousa attributes to the structural design of the building, she asserts, “The Linsey Pool is a popular facility on campus and we want to see all members of the community be able to enjoy it.”