Closed door policy

Ohio wanted to force a restaurant not to have gender neutral restrooms

bathroom, toilet, restrooms

Good Company in Cleveland, Ohio is a laid back eatery where you can grab a sandwich, an ice cream or a cocktail. But the state government recently threatened to revoke its liquor license unless it put a “men’s” and “women’s” signs on its gender neutral restrooms.

Vice reports, “According to the terms of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, restaurants and bars must have ‘separate toilet facilities for men and women’ in order to have a liquor permit.”

The restrooms already had door symbols — one with a toilet and one with a toilet and urinal — making it clear which one would work for folks who want to pee standing up. But apparently that wasn’t enough.

The restaurant’s owner Jonah Oryszak, told Vice, “I thought that was using their own sort of antiquated system against them by being like, well, the state of Ohio is going to associate a urinal with men because you know, it’s backwards and stupid so that’ll be good enough.”

When a state inspector came to see the restaurant’s newly installed patio, the inspector noticed the gender-neutral restrooms and threatened to revoke the establishment’s liquor license on the spot unless the owner added gendered signage immediately.

Adding gendered signage on restrooms is sometimes needless for small businesses because it creates unnecessary hurdle for any patrons who want to quickly use the toilet without waiting when there’s an empty but gendered restroom available. Gendered restroom signage also creates an extra hassle and potentially harassment for trans, genderqueer and non-binary patrons who don’t want others policing their appearance and toilet use.

Either way, Oryszak was forced to write a “M” and “W” on the restroom doors, lest he lose a major source of revenue for his business.

View this post on Instagram

It saddens us to say that The State of Ohio has bullied us into putting genders on our restrooms at Good Company today. We fought it the best we could but ultimately they held our business hostage stating we wouldn’t be able to operate until we added an “M” and a “W” to the restroom doors. We even asked to see the law which says “restrooms available to both sexes.” To us that sounds like we were operating within the law as we had restrooms available for EVERYONE. We will move forward operating within the law as it currently is written but rest assured that we will be fighting this behind the scenes. In the meantime we obviously will not be enforcing this – use whatever facilities you choose! ?? ?? ? ????

A post shared by Good Company (@goodcompany.cle) on

In a public Instagram post (above), Good Company wrote:

It saddens us to say that The State of Ohio has bullied us into putting genders on our restrooms at Good Company today. We fought it the best we could but ultimately they held our business hostage stating we wouldn’t be able to operate until we added an “M” and a “W” to the restroom doors. We even asked to see the law which says “restrooms available to both sexes.” To us that sounds like we were operating within the law as we had restrooms available for EVERYONE. We will move forward operating within the law as it currently is written but rest assured that we will be fighting this behind the scenes. In the meantime we obviously will not be enforcing this – use whatever facilities you choose! ?? ?? ? ????

The Ohio Department Of Commerce, which operates the state’s the liquor commission, claims that “The liquor permit was never in jeopardy of being ‘shut down,’” but their statement directly contradicted Oryszak’s experience.

Oryszak has since said that Jim Canepa, Ohio’s Superintendent of Liquor Control, contacted him, called the incident a misunderstanding and apologized.

In a more recent Instagram post, Oryszak wrote:

“Jim Canepa the Superintendent of the Liquor Department just called us to personally apologize for the restrooms. He said as far as he sees it we were complying with the law by having two available restrooms. As long as they are labeled as restrooms he doesn’t see the need to assign gender to them. Thank you for everyone’s support!”

Oryszak noted that right-wing commenters who typically crow over less government oversight and the right for businesses to refuse service to gay people supported his being forced to gender his restrooms.