UBC Undergraduate Research

The UBC Aquatic Centre Universal Change Room : Community Perception Magdangal, Bianca; Li, Huijun; Liepert, Maya; Liaw, Michelle


Participation in physical activity (PA) is instrumental to both improving and maintaining overall health (Bize, Johnson, & Plotnikoff., 2007). However, not all populations are able to participate in physical activity to the same degree (Gorczynski, 2016). The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) recent implementation of universal bathrooms and change rooms on campus seeks to address the barriers to physical activity that exist amongst many populations, particularly the LGBTQ+ community (Gorczynski, 2016). Our research aimed to determine how patrons of the UBC Aquatic Center perceive, use, and experience the universal change room. This investigation was conducted in partnership with UBC. Thus, the purpose of our research project was to gain insight into how patrons perceive universal change rooms, and to use our findings to provide recommendations for our SEEDS partners. We conducted our survey on one weekday night in order to take advantage of a high-traffic time frame. Twelve participants were approached outside of the universal change rooms and provided consent to participate in our survey. Convenience sampling was utilized in the surveys to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Our mixed-methods study design collected quantitative data through the use of “yes/no” questions and a Likert scale of 5. Quantitative data was analyzed with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data was collected through the use of an open-ended question and was further analyzed using thematic analysis to identify patterns in the qualitative responses. Through our investigation, we found that the majority of participants had pleasant and comfortable experiences in the universal change rooms, and considered universal change rooms to be a necessary facility at the UBC Aquatic Centre. Our qualitative data indicated that many participants appreciate the spaciousness and privacy of the universal change room. However, the open-ended question also indicated that there is a perceived lack of privacy in the universal change room which resulted in a preference for sex-specific change rooms for some participants. We hope that this data will be used to improve implementation of universal and gender-neutral change rooms; not just on our campus but on a larger scale. Based on our findings, we recommend that SEEDS partners should promote privacy, reinforce necessity, conduct semi-structured interviews and collaborate with LGBTQ+ groups. More specifically, we believe that future advertising efforts should emphasize the specific privacy features of the universal change room as well as provide background information of why these facilities are necessary. We also believe that it is important for future investigations to obtain more qualitative data via participant interviews, as this data provides excellent insight to potential areas of improvement in the facility. Finally, we believe that collaboration with LGBTQ+ groups is essential to ensure that these facilities are decreasing barriers to physical activity. By following these recommendations, we are confident that universal change rooms can be transformed for the better and fulfill their purpose in the community as safe-spaces designed to promote inclusion. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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