Alamo Drafthouse pitches gender-neutral bathroom idea to customers

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema founder Tim League posted some blueprints on Facebook this week to see what people thought about the idea of a "commercial gender-neutral restroom" in the popular cinema.

So longtime Drafthouse architect Richard Weiss drew the plans for him.

"This has become a national issue and Tim really wanted to make sure that his facilities were completely inclusive.  So we started talking about it and looking at the way the code is written and figuring out ways to be accommodating to everybody," Weiss said.

Weiss says League didn't want to put "Men" or "Women" labels anywhere.  So he says the best way to do that was to provide individual stalls complete with a toilet and sink -- each one with a private door.

"So the idea with these restrooms is that you would have a common hall which would have a family restroom, built-in changing rooms, accessible restrooms, a queuing line for commodes and then also a queuing line for urinals," Weiss said.

And that's an entire room just for urinals according to Weiss.  He says dealing with city code has been part of the design process.

"All of the unit counts are related to male and female so it's then taking those, making sure that you're meeting the total number of facilities but making sure that they're also accessible to everyone.  And in order to do that we're increasing the number of facilities that we're putting into the project," Weiss said.

The gender-neutral restroom layout has received more positive feedback than negative on Alamo's Facebook page...many offering constructive criticism.

"Tiff" wrote "Now this is what I'm talking about.  My one question - do the private stalls have openings in the sides like traditional toilet stalls?  Or would they be a little room with no way to peek in?  Just curious."

Alamo wrote back: "Real doors and stalls.  No peeks!"

Some others were not happy.  Brian wrote "This is a manufactured problem and you are contributing to complete and utter madness.  Discrimination is unacceptable, but so is catering to the asinine stupidity of a problem that doesn't exist."

Responding to some criticism about not taking a side on the issue, League wrote "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."

"They are about the customer experience.  Just like they don't want a single bad seat in the house.  They want to make sure everybody is comfortable and they want to do it in a way that's inclusive to everybody.  This isn't about making anybody feel uncomfortable," Weiss said.

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