[OSM-talk] How do you mapping gender neutral toilets? What should the unisex tag mean?

Rory McCann rory at technomancy.org
Tue Apr 24 16:27:02 UTC 2018

Hi all,

Let's have a wee talk about how should one map gender neutral (and
gender segregated) toilets. There is a unisex=yes for toilets which
looks like it might be the number one tag to use. The bog standard
meaning of "unisex toilet"[1] is a gender neutral toilet, i.e. not
segregated into separate male & female facilities.

Many smaller public toilets are single occupancy and hence unisex, many
larger public toilets (e.g. in shopping centers) are segregated. Social
conservatives are mostly losing the battle on same-sex marriage, so
their new target is trans people, and they're proposing "bathroom laws"
to limit trans people's access to public life. Some organizations are
making their toilets "gender neutral" in response. So there are probably
a lot of gender neutral public toilets, and it's very useful for some
people to know where they are.

But I don't think that's how "unisex=yes" been used in OSM. The wiki
page says "unisex=yes" is a shorthand for "male=yes female=yes". The
JOSM validator used to suggest that replacement, until I filed a bug[2].
iD's preset has 3 mutually exclusive options, Male, Female and Unisex,
it won't let you add both male=yes female=yes.

If I see "amenity=toilets unisex=yes", I would think this is a gender
neutral toilet. If I see "amenity=toilets female=yes male=yes" I would
think gender segregated. Big difference.

I propose that we start viewing "unisex=yes" on toilets as meaning
"gender neutral toilet", which is different from "male=yes female=yes",
which is "gender segregated".

Thoughts? Feedback? Anything I'm missing? Is unisex-yes tag being used
by many projects? What do they interpret it as? It's good not to force

A year ago Micah Cochran's suggestion[3] would be along these lines, but
some changed to toilets:for:unisex=yes (etc.)


P.S. I am doing this as part of the "Diversity Quarterly Project"[4],
which for the quarter is gendered toilets. Plenty of toilets have no
male/female (and/or unisex) tag, and we should add those tags.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisex_public_toilet
[2] https://josm.openstreetmap.de/ticket/15536
[4] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Diversity_Quarterly_Project/2018_Q2

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