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Editorial: A Gender-Neutral Bathroom Should Be A No-Brainer

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Many schools are implementing gender-neutral bathrooms in place of regular bathrooms. Gender-neutral bathrooms can be used by anyone who chooses to. For many reasons, the Round Table Editorial Staff presents you this editorial detailing the reasons we should implement a gender-neutral bathroom as soon as possible.

 

Our proposal: Let’s add a gender neutral bathroom to Stamford High School.

 

Here’s why gender-neutral bathrooms are important:

The addition of a gender-neutral bathroom will promote a more inclusive school climate. Having them gives people who are undecided in their gender identity no pressure to present themselves in a way they are uncomfortable with. Having to find bathrooms you are comfortable with using should be the last thing your mind in an educational environment. We in the United States have the freedom of choice—and not having gender neutral bathrooms is in direct violation of this ideal.

A study released by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in 2017 shows that 150,000 youths 13-17 identify as transgender in the US. More importantly, a national survey by GLSEN shows that 75 percent of transgender youths feel unsafe at school. Feeling comfort is crucial to maintaining a successful learning environment.

Jonah T, a transgender junior at Stamford High who preferred to keep his last name anonymous because his parents disapprove of the transition, says that he sometimes gets ridiculed for taking too long to return from the bathroom. Although he received permission to use male bathrooms last year, he says he feels uncomfortable using them when other boys are in there. People in the bathrooms have yelled at him. This has limited him to using two specific bathrooms in our school.

Jonah and his friend Sky Malaysia, a nonbinary sophomore at our school, say that the best bathrooms for them are in the health center and in Dr. Boller’s office on the sixth floor. They feel lucky to have access to these, but say they also recognize that those without permission to use the health center—or those who are not familiar with Dr. Boller—are not inclined to use them – making them less accessible, and therefore unacceptable, substitutes to a gender-neutral bathroom.

A gender-neutral bathroom will make teachers more aware of the fact that it may take certain students a longer time to return to the classroom when using the restroom, putting students at ease.

Normal bathrooms are safety hazards for many students like Jonah T and Malaysia. Not only is going to the bathroom of their choice uncomfortable for these two, but they say that they also fear making others uncomfortable. Malaysia mentioned that because they are nonbinary, when they wear masculine clothing and go into female bathrooms, they unintentionally make many females uncomfortable. According to Jacob Tobia of Time Magazine, some females who see transgender girls fear they are sexual predators. Likewise, he claims that some males who see transgender boys label them as weak.

This bathroom will provide a safe haven to those who need it most. It will not only be convenient, it will serve as a public display of support for students who may not be getting it at home. Jessie Tarzia, a transgender senior at Spire Academy who used to attend Stamford High, says that for “people who identify as other genders, be it nonbinary or just questioning, [this bathroom] will provide a safe place to go.¨ Malaysia said that this bathroom will make them feel more safe because when people go in there, they will be surrounded by ¨people who understand them better.¨

High school is a place for people to find themselves. For some this means creating new identities for themselves. High school is a place where kids are learning to become comfortable with who they are. This restroom will support these kids, protect them, and show them that we recognize what they are going through.

Many think it would be uncomfortable sharing a restroom with those of the other gender, but testimony, one from our reporter and another from a teacher (both cisgender), indicate otherwise.

Junior reporter Isabella Sorial attended a debate tournament hosted by Yale just one year ago, and said she was immediately struck by the fact that there were only gender-neutral bathrooms. Everyone attending the debate was forced to use bathrooms with people of the opposite gender—and, “to our surprise, it wasn’t uncomfortable.” She also said that she “thought it would be weird sharing a restroom with males, but it wasn’t.” According to her, it felt like they were finally on a truly equal playing field.

In the 1980’s, History Department Head Douglas MacLehose attended Oberlin College. While he was there, MacLehose happened to be placed in a co-ed dorm—meaning that many of the bathrooms and showers could be utilized by people of all genders. When interviewed, he mentioned that using these bathrooms “took a brief adjustment” and that “the anticipation of it was stranger than the actual thing.” Plus, because it was his choice to utilize this facility, “you didn’t have to use that bathroom.” He says that if we implement a gender-neutral bathroom in Stamford High, it “needs to be a place where everyone can feel safe and comfortable”.

In case you need another reason to be in support of this project, according to Sky Malaysia, who attended Westhill for part of this year due to a redistricting issue, Westhill has a gender neutral bathroom. Do we want another reason for people to like Westhill? And beyond that, how long can we remain blind to the needs of the modern student? Many schools are starting to implement these bathrooms on their campuses. In fact, every New York City public school was required to implement at least one gender neutral bathroom by the beginning of this school year. The next school to get one should be Stamford High.

 

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Editorial: A Gender-Neutral Bathroom Should Be A No-Brainer