Date of Award
Open Access Thesis
Master of Public Health (MPH)
School of Public Health
John E. Pachankis
Introduction: Gender minority individuals, including university students, experience worse mental health compared with cisgender individuals. Although there are many factors that may shape these mental health disparities, inequitable bathroom access is one known factor. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to explore how campus bathroom use influences the mental health of gender minority students compared with cisgender students. Specifically, this study examines how discordance in bathroom preference and bathroom use is associated with mental health.
Method: This was a cross-sectional online study administered across three universities in the United States. Participants (N=120) completed an online survey. Respondents answered questions about mental health, bathroom preferences, and bathroom use across three bathroom types: 1) sex-segregated, multi-user, 2) all-gender, multi-user, and 3) single-user. The sample included 23 (19.2%) gender minority students.
Results: Using linear and logistic regression models, this study found that gender minority students were more likely than cisgender students to experience poor mental health as a result of campus bathroom use (B = 1.28, 95% CI = 0.61-1.94). Unexpectedly, discordance between bathroom preference and most frequent type of bathroom usage was protective of mental health (OR = 0.29, 95% CI = 0.10-0.86), but gender did not moderate this association. In addition, findings suggest that both cisgender and gender minority participants prefer single-user and all-gender, multi-user bathrooms over sex-segregated, multi-user bathrooms.
Conclusions: Findings highlight that inequitable bathroom access contributes to mental health disparities between gender minority and cisgender individuals. Implications for universities include renovating or constructing more inclusive bathrooms across campuses.
Caba, Antonia, "Associations Between Campus Bathroom Use And Mental Health Among Gender Minority And Cisgender Students" (2020). Public Health Theses. 1925.
This Article is Open Access