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Author Topic: Public bathroom conundrom
Starsnuffer
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Cognitive daily's casual friday survey had aninteresting topic and I thought I'd put it here for people's discussing pleasure.

Also, it made me wonder about those toilet seat covers you occasionally. A brief bout of googling preemptively has confirmed my suspicion that they're hogwash, but I'd also like to hear your knowledge and habits regarding the matter.

Armed with the knowledge that toilet seats are really one of the most bacteria-free things we generally encounter, I have never used nor fashioned my own toilet seat cover in a public, or private, restroom.

Also, I think the idea of more unisexing of bathrooms would be good, or having toilets in separate rooms opening straight into a hallway with sinks handy in the hallway or something would be good.

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ketchupqueen
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Um, toilet seat covers are required by law here.

Personally I wipe down with toilet paper, then use a cover.

My four year old doesn't like them so I carry a foldable plastic one that she can use instead.

Though I can intellectually know they're likely to be cleaner than the one at my home, that doesn't trump the ickiness factor, KWIM?

Also, I am not averse to using a friend's toilet in her/his home, though I am aware that the seat is likely cleaned far less often than the ones in public restrooms.

I am not opposed to unisex restrooms-- if they are one-seaters.

I am not opposed to family restrooms.

I am opposed to unisex restrooms being all that are available.

I have on occasion used the mens' restroom when it was a one-seater and all that was available (womens' was broken a few times; once, my four year old REALLY had to go and the womens' was occupied and the mens' wasn't.)

It is not an experience I wish to repeat.

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MightyCow
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I'm not worried about bacteria - I just don't want to sit in pee.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I'm not worried about bacteria - I just don't want to sit in pee.

Precisely.

A bunch of strangers' pee, even more so.

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Vadon
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To start with, I hate public restrooms.* I only use them when it's necessary. Because I only use them when absolutely necessary I tend to be in a rush and the thought doesn't really occur to me to make a toilet seat cover.

But on the concept of unisex bathrooms. I think there's some pretty major cons to take into consideration.

-Some men would find it even more awkward to use a urinal when there are women walking behind them. (Some women would also be more uncomfortable using the bathroom.)

-If you collapse the bathrooms into one unit, you have a new problem: Stall Demand. Often a man will use a urinal, but sometimes they need to use a stall, and for the reason stated above, they may be more comfortable using a stall in a unisex bathroom. Considering women would need to use stalls and some men would need them as well, it creates a sort of 'tension' on who gets to use the stalls, when, etc.

-Collapsing to a unisex bathroom would increase 'foot traffic' (That being a euphemism of sorts). I think the tidiness and cleanliness of bathrooms could be more easily compromised by unisex bathrooms.

All of that said, I'm fine with unisex bathrooms for areas with light demand (Say a scarcely traveled high-way's rest-stop), or 'one-person at a time' bathrooms because my problems with unisex bathrooms are substantially decreased in those situations.

For your last point on sinks in the hall way. I think that would be a bad idea simply because you would block the flow of traffic in the hall. Especially if you get a line to the sink. I understand your logic though. Many people don't wash their hands when leaving the bathroom, so the door handle and faucet knobs are unsanitary. (Faucet knobs because you turn them on with your hands not being clean.) I think the easiest solution would be to have paper towels readily available at the sink so you can turn the faucet off with a towel, then have a garbage can right outside the bathroom for you to throw away the towel. (Using it as a 'glove' on the door handle.)

... I think way too much about bathrooms.

*Major Vegas casinos like Caesar's palace are an exception. Those bathrooms are incredible and have inspired me to make a life goal in using a public restroom in every major Vegas casino. I've got Caesar's Palace and the Stratosphere down. I still have many more. [Smile]

Edit for faulty parallelism.

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quidscribis
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In places where there are public restrooms here, there usually are sinks in the hallway. It doesn't impede traffic at all, but they're usually not treated as an afterthought - planning went into this. The sinks in the hallway bit is most common in restaurants and food courts - pretty much everyone washes their hands before and after eating, especially if they're eating with their hands.
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ketchupqueen
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Our sinks at the park are outside the restroom. I like it, it allows you to wash your hands without going into the restroom if that's all you're doing.
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Bella Bee
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I think most men would probably object to unisex bathrooms on the basis that once there were ladies included they would have to queue for the loo, just like we do.

A lot of men can be somewhat smug about the fact that they don't usually have long waiting times for their toliets, while the line for the ladies' will often be round the block.

And yes, I don't see unisex urinals working out for anyone.

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Uprooted
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Multi-stall public bathrooms are a necessary evil, but I really don't want to share with a member of the opposite sex, thanks just the same. As for one-toilet bathrooms, sure, they can be unisex just like at home.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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And what would ya'll think of the pine 16 holer at the Hooper Rodeo Grounds. I never did see it fully occupied. But, it was a conversation pit so to speak. I didn't actually check the ladies one out. The building was the same length, so I assumed the facilities were similar.
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brojack17
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I don't think twice about it.

My wife, on the other hand, feels much the same as KQ.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Um, toilet seat covers are required by law here.

Are you sure of that? I've definitely been to plenty of public restrooms that lacked even the dispenser.

They're also completely useless. Wiping down a seat with toilet paper (especially if there is evidence of any moisture, etc.) is far more effective.

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scifibum
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kq, I've heard several other women indicate that the women's tend to be as visibly gross, or more so, than the men's (they've had jobs cleaning both, or otherwise had exposure to the men's). I think the term "hovering" came up as an explanation - apparently this can cause some mess. (I wonder how many unisex restroom messes have been unfairly attributed to men). But I admit, sometimes men's rooms are awful. Men's rooms in offices aren't usually bad. In truck stops, it's pretty hit or miss.

Personally I'll sit directly on any seat that looks clean. It's not that I'm convinced that a clean looking seat is free from germs or traces of ejecta. It's just that as long as it's invisible traces, I'm OK*. I'd have a hard time sitting down on messes detectable to the naked eye.

*It's sort of like eating a fast food hamburger for me. I'm sure with sufficient study and patience, I'd eventually find something nasty on one of mine. I'd rather just eat it without looking too closely though.

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advice for robots
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Having had to clean both men's and women's bathrooms at BYU, I would say that the women are generally neater and more considerate than the men, although there were more clogged toilets in the women's due to, I imagine, more toilet paper being used. The exception was Women's Conference, when those little boxes next to the toilet were always full to overflowing (shudder).

I would not like to use a unisex multi-stall bathroom whether standing or sitting. If that were the only option I would probably hold it.

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Trent Destian
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I was about to go to lunch, but now I find I'm not that hungry. Thank you thread.
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The Rabbit
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Why do we have public urinals at all? Do you know anyone who has a urinal in their home? Urinals are the only reason to segregate bathrooms and I can't think of any reason for providing urinals in the first place.

The most gender equitable way to provide public restrooms would be to provide a row of individually totally enclosed (floor to ceiling) toilets with common sinks.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Why do we have public urinals at all?
For the same reason that there's always a line outside the women's restroom, and almost never outside the men's.
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advice for robots
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I would say urinals save gallons and gallons of water. They don't get touched, and therefore don't need "seat covers" for every new use, they take up far less space in the restroom and require little to no partitioning, and therefore allow higher volume and faster, um, processing. They're far more efficient, and likely one big reason the lines at men's restrooms are shorter and move faster than women's. Having one in the home would be overkill, but having them in men's restrooms has got to save costs and time. A unisex bathroom with fully enclosed stalls and no urinals would IMO cost more to build and maintain and generate longer lines for everyone.
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Tinros
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I wouldn't ever use a multi-stall unisex bathroom. I am NOT comfortable with the idea that I may be exposed to men's genitalia at random. No. Just... no.

A one-at-a-time unisex bathroom, sure. I've used those.

I've never used a seat cover in my life- I just wipe the seat off. I rarely even see them in the stalls here in Ohio. Granted, I also live in a dorm, so I'm used to sharing a bathroom with a lot of people- but it gets cleaned every day, so I'm not concerned.

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scifibum
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I've heard people proudly describing their at-home urinals.
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scifibum
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"I wouldn't ever use a multi-stall unisex bathroom. I am NOT comfortable with the idea that I may be exposed to men's genitalia at random. No. Just... no."

I'm not sure what you mean. We don't walk around the bathroom with our junk hanging out.

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Tinros
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I never assumed you did. It's just that the idea of pulling my pants down in a place where men are doing the same makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Not that I'd oppose other women doing the same, if they wanted to. I just wouldn't myself.
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The Genuine
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Um, toilet seat covers are required by law here.

Really? You mean just making them available, or actually using them?
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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
"I wouldn't ever use a multi-stall unisex bathroom. I am NOT comfortable with the idea that I may be exposed to men's genitalia at random. No. Just... no."

I'm not sure what you mean. We don't walk around the bathroom with our junk hanging out.

[sotto voce]We don't?[/sotto voce]

I ::clears throat:: I...of course we don't! What kind of barbarians do you take us for?

::straightens tie::

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Katarain
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
My four year old doesn't like them so I carry a foldable plastic one that she can use instead.

A foldable plastic one? Tell me more!!
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Katarain
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This maybe?
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rivka
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More likely this.
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
More likely this.

... I think I'd prefer to buy it new, even if it's been sterilized.
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maui babe
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
More likely this.

... I think I'd prefer to buy it new, even if it's been sterilized.
Yeah, if you're fastidious enough to want to carry one of those around, you're not likely to be willing to buy a used one. Weird.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I've heard people proudly describing their at-home urinals.

At a university sponsered high school music camp where the girls were staying in what would have been a mens dorm during the school year, many of the girls were excited about the helpful "nylon rinsers" that were provided. To a lass, they wanted one in their home.
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ketchupqueen
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My daughter's is a kid-sized Sesame Street one. This one.

At home she's outgrown the need for a potty seat but since she doesn't like the cover I like her to use this, and since public toilets are often constructed differently from the ones at home, she prefers the security of always having a solid seat, too.

rivka, providing toilet seat covers is required by law, although there are a few exemptions(parks, for instance) which is why I 1) usually carry my own and 2) have a back-up procedure of making them out of toilet paper. But last I heard it was still the law.

I've heard of women "hovering" but this does not seem to be as frequent in CA, because of the afore-mentioned seat covers. Or maybe for some other reason? Anyway, I don't encounter it as often here as I did in Dallas. As for bathroom nastiness, there may be more stuff on the seats but I always find more stuff on the floors in the men's room. At least the ones I've been into. And since I wipe down the seats before use anyway (with a disinfectant wipe, if necessary) the floors being nasty is rather repellant to me.

And I know several folks who have a toddler urinal for their little boys. (Personally, I find it a bit creepy!)

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Puffy Treat
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My employer has a paper towel and a sanitizer dispenser in the rest room. I use both on the seats, figuring a little caution can't hurt. Especially if the cleaning people haven't made their twice-daily visit, yet.
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andi330
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Wow, I watched the cleaning lady at my work on Sunday put the clean paper towels in the same bin (there were no individual compartments) as the bags of trash she was taking out. It just makes you realize that maybe, washing your hands isn't really getting them clean.
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Samprimary
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You need to have separate-sex bathrooms anywhere where there is a sufficient volume of people to make urinals a good idea.

Because you want urinals.

Also, a lot of the places I frequent (bars, nightclubs) are a pressing argument for not having unisex bathrooms because it would be so. freaking. weird.

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MyrddinFyre
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You've got a point there - the whole social aspect of girls taking a trip to the bathroom to freshen up and gossip would be shot.
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I'm not sure what you mean. We don't walk around the bathroom with our junk hanging out.

I have known guys who would take the opportunity to do so if women were around.
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Javert
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After having to share a bathroom with about two dozen others my freshman year at college (more than one toilet, but still), I have no qualms about using public bathrooms.

Bring it on, I've seen it all.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by MyrddinFyre:
You've got a point there - the whole social aspect of girls taking a trip to the bathroom to freshen up and gossip would be shot.

Beyond social aspects, it would be way, way too problematic. Would a girl want to use a restroom in a nightclub if you had drunk guys liable to follow you in there, or otherwise just be hanging out in there?

Big-time issues. That has to be sovereign territory, for sure. Also, guys would not have to wait in line.

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rivka
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kq, these lawyers claim there is no such law.

I find many sites claiming otherwise, but not a single citation. And most are either bloggers, or people/companies who manufacture and/or sell the things. I believe we have an urban legend.

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MyrddinFyre
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Oh yes - I didn't mean to make it sound that that aspect was what you were referring to, I should have had an "and" in there!

I completely agree. I've been to a nightclub with a (very, very, VERY small two-stall) unisex bathroom, and the only reason girls actually did use it was because it was a gay club [Smile]

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
kq, these lawyers claim there is no such law.

I find many sites claiming otherwise, but not a single citation. And most are either bloggers, or people/companies who manufacture and/or sell the things. I believe we have an urban legend.

Really? Because I've always been told so, including by people who weren't allowed to open their business until they put in toilet seat covers.
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rivka
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I have been in plenty of businesses that didn't have 'em.
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GinaG
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I was going to ask which hellish nanny state would require toilet seat covers, but of course it had to be California. [Frown]

If people are concerned about "sitting in pee," I have a couple observations: a) a flimsy piece of paper is not going to do much good against that, and b) there would be a lot less pee on the seats if not for all the "hoverers." Then there are the people who leave their flimsy piece of paper on the seat or draping wet from the bowl.

Now, a really useful bathroom law would be to ban cell phones in public restrooms.

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The Genuine
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That cell phone discussion is happening at Sakeriver.

It's an eerie bathroom/forum parallel.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by GinaG:
I was going to ask which hellish nanny state would require toilet seat covers, but of course it had to be California. [Frown]

Did you read my post or link?
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GinaG
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by GinaG:
I was going to ask which hellish nanny state would require toilet seat covers, but of course it had to be California. [Frown]

Did you read my post or link?
Yes, I did. But it's interesting that people obviously think it's a law, isn't it? The nanny is looming over you wagging her finger, even when she isn't!
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rivka
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Some people. I'd never even heard that anyone thought it was a law until today, and I've lived in California over 25 years.

Given any ridiculous belief, I'm sure you can find some people who believe it. That doesn't mean it has any bearing in reality.

(*waits for KoM and/or Tom to consider that a cue*)

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Why do we have public urinals at all? Do you know anyone who has a urinal in their home? Urinals are the only reason to segregate bathrooms and I can't think of any reason for providing urinals in the first place.

The most gender equitable way to provide public restrooms would be to provide a row of individually totally enclosed (floor to ceiling) toilets with common sinks.

The reason is they are cheaper to both build and maintain, use less water, and increase the number of people who can use a bathroom...increase the "flow" of people, so to speak. [Wink]
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ketchupqueen
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I did find a law that specifies that certain service stations are required to maintain public restrooms which are "clean and functional" and that
quote:
For purposes of this subdivision, "clean and functional"
refers to functional and operative plumbing fixtures, dry floor
surfaces, adequate supplies of toilet paper and paper seat
covers, and either paper towels or functional air-drying
equipment, and functional electric lighting.

Haven't found it anywhere else yet but haven't looked that hard.
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Chris Bridges
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Biggest problem for unisex bathrooms, I think, would be the embarrassment factor. Bad enough your same-gender friends possibly overhearing your actions, would you want your first date in the stall next door?

I hear long-time couples talk about proudly leaving the bathroom door open at home or walking in on each other without a qualm, but no. In 23 years of being together, Teres and I have never felt the need or desire to lose the mystery.

Also? There are plenty of guys who would totally expose themselves, "accidentally" or on purpose, or worse, to cute girls. Think of the actions of some of the obnoxious guys you've reluctantly encountered at bars and imagine meeting them in a situation where they're expected to open their pants.

No problem with the shared sinks. It may even increase hygiene, as people tend to wash their hands more frequently under peer pressure.

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