Cues Signaling Gender Segregation and Gender Inclusion in Public Spaces Affect Adolescents’ Binary Conceptualization of Gender and Attitudes Toward Transgender and Nonbinary People

Traci K. Gillig, Sonia Jawaid Shaikh, Leila Bighash


Gender segregation of public facilities (e.g., restrooms) is communicated via cues such as language and imagery on facility signage. While people are exposed to these cues regularly, little research examines how they influence adolescents’ gender-related attitudes and social behaviors. In this preregistered online experiment, we tested differential impact of exposure to gender-segregated and all-gender facilities cues in a school environment on the attitudes and peer selection of 319 adolescents (aged 12–17 years) from a nationally representative sample. Exposure to gender-segregated facilities cues positively predicted binary conceptualization of gender and did not predict gender-congruent peer selection. Adolescents’ prior exposure to all-gender facilities in everyday life was associated with more positive attitudes toward transgender and nonbinary people and increased comfort with all-gender facilities. Results indicate effects of gendered facilities cues on adolescents’ gender-based socialization. Social and theoretical implications are discussed.


adolescents, gender, transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, attitudes, visual cues, visual communication

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