Yelp to Help Customers Find Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

March 03, 2017 02:56 PM

Yelp, the crowd-sourced company specializing in online reviews, is wading into the national debate over transgender people's bathroom access with a new feature that will enable consumers to search for businesses offering gender-neutral restrooms.

In a blog post on Friday, Yelp said it would collect information from both customers and business owners in order to add a "Gender Neutral Restrooms" category to its listings. Yelp defines such restrooms as locking, single-stall toilet facilities accessible to people of any gender.

Advertisement – Content Continues Below

"At Yelp we thrive on inclusion and acceptance," the blog post said.

RELATED: Trump Administration Lifts Transgender Bathroom Guidance 

Rachel Williams, Yelp's head of diversity since November 2014, said the initiative, to be phased in over several weeks, marked the first time during her tenure that the company had sought to integrate a social issue into its website and app.

"The hope is that this feature gets business owners thinking about how they're presenting themselves — who they're supporting and why," Williams said. "Maybe it will start some conversations."

She said the idea for the new feature came from employees in Yelp's products section who were "incensed" by efforts in some parts of the U.S. to curtail transgender people's civil rights.

On Thursday, Yelp was among 53 U.S. companies filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting transgender teen Gavin Grimm in a lawsuit against his local school board in Virginia's Gloucester County. Grimm wants to use the boys' bathroom at his high school, saying it matches his chosen gender; the board's policy prohibits him from doing so.

Along with Yelp, businesses supporting the brief included Airbnb, Apple, eBay, IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, Tumblr and Williams-Sonoma. Similar briefs were filed by religious leaders, major medical associations, civil rights organizations, teachers' unions and other groups.

The conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a brief supporting the Gloucester County school board, criticized the 53 companies for disregarding the concerns that some students might have about sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with transgender schoolmates.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 28, although the school board is seeking a delay.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017, as a showdown is set for a vote on the Republican health care overhaul after President Donald Trump made clear he is finished negotiating with GOP holdouts.

House Republicans Withdraw Health Care Bill

This is an undated photo released by the Metropolitan Police of Khalid Masood. Authorities identified Masood, a 52-year-old Briton as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London.

London Attacker was Cheerful, Joking on Eve of Rampage

Federal Assessment of St. Anthony Police Department to Include Look at Traffic Stops

Numerous law enforcement vehicles and SWAT teams respond to shooter Wednesday at an apartment complex in Rothschild, Wisconsin.

Suspect Identified in Quadruple Wisconsin Shooting

Regents Look to Commission Independent Review of Gophers Football Players Investigation

President Donald Trump, flanked by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is seen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Friday, during the announcing of the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Trump Administration Approves Keystone XL Pipeline