On Friday, the crowd-sourced review website Yelp announced it has added a new feature that will help users identify those businesses that offer gender-neutral restrooms to patrons. Yelp defines a gender-neutral restroom as a single-stall bathroom, equipped with a lock, that is accessible to persons of any gender.
Moving forward, Yelp — which allows users to rate and post reviews of local businesses, eateries, delivery services and more — will allow users and visitors to each establishment to edit the “Gender Neutral Restrooms” attribute in each company’s listing. If a business feels their facilities don’t meet that criteria, they can log into their account and mark their business as lacking gender-neutral restrooms.
The company is also rolling out a search function that users will be able to utilize to find those companies that offer gender-neutral restrooms. These functions will be available on both desktop and mobile versions of Yelp.
Yelp says it did extensive research into the issue of gender-neutral restrooms, consulting with various LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, and using terminology endorsed by Transgender Law Center, to help develop the feature. The company also consulted its internal LGBTQ group, OUTburst, and had members share their experience and insight with developers.
As the debate over transgender restroom use has heated up around the country, more and more businesses have decided to either pitch sex-segregated restrooms entirely or add gender-neutral restrooms as an alternative option for their customers.
Yelp recently announced it had signed onto an amicus brief supporting Virginia transgender high school student Gavin Grimm in his lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board for a policy barring him from the boys’ restroom at his school. That case is pending before the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on Mar. 28. Yelp has also opposed several anti-LGBTQ laws in Arizona, Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina in recent years.
“In response to the recent public policy assault on the LGBTQ community, … [W]e believe it’s important for the business community to speak up when our nation’s values are threatened,” Rachel Williams, Yelp’s head of diversity and inclusion, said in a statement announcing the new feature. “Yelp thrives on inclusion and acceptance, and it’s always the right time to reaffirm this with our community.”
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