|Drawing of private restrooms with less square footage than multi-stall restrooms (shown above). Click the graphic for printable .pdf.
Up to 46 million Americans are unable to urinate in the presence of others. Shy bladder syndrome (paruresis) is the name for this condition.
In buildings designed with multi-stall restrooms, paruresis sufferers find it difficult or impossible to urinate when others are in the same room. Toilet stalls, urinal partitions or background music often do not provide relief. This environment damages the quality of life people expect while functioning in society.
Paruresis can affect worker productivity or the ability to work at all. Working from home may be the only alternative if private restrooms are not available where employees are expected to perform.
Paruresis can even lead to agoraphobia or to suicide.
These problems can be helped if single-user (private) restrooms become the norm in society and multi-stalls become obsolete.
Private restrooms can require less square footage than multi-stall restrooms. They do not need a dedicated room for the public to move around and not bump into one another. Building corridors, lobbies and other common areas provide this public circulation area and at no additional cost.
Multi-stall restrooms with a separate family restroom are not the answer due to more square footage required. Men can also be reluctant to use a family restroom as being a ladies' room.
Multi-stall restrooms with floor to ceiling toilet partitions can require more square footage than do private restrooms.
Private restrooms designed around the 2018 International Plumbing Code, Section 403.1.2 are required to be gender-neutral. These facilities help those with paruresis by having privacy, provide safer environments for families with children, help disabled persons with opposite-sex caregivers, reduce waiting lines for everyone (potty parity) and can even solve transgender restroom issues.
The National Organization for Women, a proponent for more private, gender-neutral restrooms, asks that toilet seat covers and hand soap dispensers be maintained in these facilities per their support of the 2010 Bipartisan Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act.
In new building designs, architects can reduce the total building size where private restrooms require less space. The resulting energy savings pay back the additional cost of the private restrooms - for more doors, walls, etc.
With all restrooms being private, employee and customer satisfaction can increase leading to better productivity and increased sales. Buildings become user-friendly, inviting, more in demand and an environment people can function in.
The Americans With Disabilities Act includes mental impairments which is what paruresis is. The 2008 ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the 2011 EEOC interpretations make paruresis even easier to prove as a disability that could lead to costly implications
The American's With Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION BY PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS: "(a) General Rule.--No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." ADA also states that a person is "considered to have a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."
A Study by Williams and Degenhart - Journal of General Psychology 51:19-29, 1954, found 14.4% of the population having paruresis, equaling 46 million Americans.
A Harvard University Study - Social Phobia Subtypes in the National Comorbidity Study - American Journal of Psychiatry, 155:613-9, May 1998, found 6.6% of the population with paruresis equaling 21 million Americans.