The earliest efforts to legislate gender segregation in the United States were due to a lack of women’s facilities in workplaces.
In 1887, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law mandating women's restrooms in workplaces with female employees. As far as I can tell, this was a pretty good idea; factories and other places that had begun to employ women were refusing to install restrooms for them. Perhaps the job market would have corrected itself eventually, but in the mean time working ladies had to pee...
In many places, businesses are legally prohibited from offering only gender-neutral restrooms. A small restaurant, coffee shop, or bar with only two (separate, enclosed) toilets must designate one for women and one for men. New York City only made it permissible in 2012 for restaurants and coffee shops with just two water closets to make these unisex, and only then for places with a total occupancy of 30 or fewer. (Washington, D.C., is one of the few places where it's actually illegal to designate single-occupancy restrooms as male- or female-use only.)
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