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A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. The shop installed the signs after North Carolina's "bathroom law" gained national attention, positioning the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake        - RTX2CPEL

NYC’s gender-neutral bathrooms urge people to ‘look past pink and blue’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law Tuesday that requires all single-occupant bathrooms citywide to be designated as gender-neutral.

Last week, in a 47-2 vote, the New York City Council approved the measure, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1.

“Any New Yorker — no matter how they identify or express their gender — will now be able to use any public, single-occupant bathroom,” the mayor said in a statement released Tuesday. “With this bill, we take yet another step toward becoming a place where all can live with dignity, free from fear and free from judgment.”

Under the law, restaurants, bars and businesses are expected to replace the “men” and “women” signs of single-stall bathrooms with unisex designations.

Earlier this month, De Blasio’s administration rolled out a $265,000 media campaign that affirmed a person’s right to use a public bathroom that aligned with their gender identity, The Wall Street Journal reported. The ads urged people to “look past pink and blue.”

City councilman Daniel Dromm, the bill’s main sponsor, said the new legislation helped create a more welcoming environment for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

“Most New Yorkers take their unfettered access to bathrooms for granted,” the councilman said in a statement. “Yet, every single day, transgender and gender-conforming individuals must grapple with the fact that their choices may lead to harassment or worse.”

De Blasio’s administration plans to spend $265,000 on a media campaign that , The Wall Street Journal reported.

New York follows other U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, who have enacted similar policies that favor gender neutral labels.

There has been little resistance to New York City’s law, the Associated Press reported. Kevin Dugan, the regional director of the New York State Restaurant Association, told AP that he didn’t expect the new changes to hurt businesses.

“As long as education is first and foremost, we have no problem,” he told AP.

The measure also comes after weeks of national debate over transgender students’ access to restrooms that match their gender identity. North Carolina and other states have argued that transgender people should use public bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

The Obama administration has said North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

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