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It’s Time For Change: Privacy in the Boys’ Bathroom

The boys’ bathrooms at Terra Linda High School are consistently packed with students. However, due to the lack of urinal dividers, there is often a mob of boys crowding the bathroom waiting for a space to clear. Out of respect, courtesy, and acknowledging privacy, there is an unspoken yet implied rule in the bathroom to not use the urinal next to an in-use urinal. This leads to inadequate accessibility of the urinals, which is a problem that could be corrected with little funding or labor. For years, this problem has been apparent, yet as of now, there is still a lack of dividers between the urinals which leads to feelings of discomfort and infringed privacy.

The boys’ bathroom on the lower level of the school only has dividers on every second urinal, which creates three groups of two urinals that would leave the user’s genitals to be exposed. This leaves many students standing in the middle of the restroom with an ever present sense of awkwardness, just waiting for an available space in which they can use the bathroom in privacy.

The downstairs bathroom has a total of seven urinals, which is without a doubt a sufficient amount to reduce any line or wait time in the bathroom. However, because there are only half the necessary amount of dividers, only four of the urinals are ever used at a time. Although rarely spoken about, everybody knows of the common courtesy convention of bathroom etiquette – do not pee in the same urinal pair as another person; wait for both spots to open up. This standard is known by all and is rarely infringed. Student Gordon Gebauer agrees with the statement saying, “…if someone were to come up to the urinal next to me I would definitely say something… It’s just weird to do that.” Not only does it provoke awkwardness, but it also deters people to feel comfortable in their own school’s bathroom and reduces their privacy.

Ryan Duffy, an avid bathroom user who holds a strong stance on this topic, spoke for the entirety of TL boys when he shared what he thinks of this situation. What boggles Duffy the most is that the staff must already be aware that this is a problem.  In the upstairs bathroom, there are dividers separating every urinal – just how it should be. This leaves us wondering why they have yet to correct the downstairs bathroom. To avoid an uncomfortable experience in the bathroom, many people go out of their way to use the upstairs bathroom, where they can use the bathroom without any palpable feelings of discomfort. Duffy shares, “…because of the limited urinal dividers, I feel extremely uncomfortable using the downstairs bathroom. From what I’ve heard, the girls bathroom has much more privacy than the boys do. Clearly this is a problem and it should be a priority to put dividers between every urinal.” Duffy solely uses the urinal on the very left of the bathroom, as it is the only urinal that is isolated. Duffy promptly stated that using a urinal that is not separated from the others is, “a little too close to comfort”. This issue is so severe that if there are too many people in line to use the restroom during lunch, Duffy will simply go to his nearby home so that he can use the bathroom in peace. He wrapped up our conversation by saying, “In all seriousness, this (the lack of privacy) is a problem with an easy fix. Just put a divider between every urinal. Hell, they could even glue on a slab of cardboard and it would solve the problem.”

It is evident that the lack of dividers between the urinals in the boys’ bathroom at Terra Linda is an issue that calls for urgent attention. By the school allowing this breach of privacy, students feel uncomfortable while using the bathroom and can ultimately lead to an influence in sexual harassment. It is a unanimous agreement that this is a problem and action must be taken to correct it.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t agree. The placement of the downstairs urinals does not allow a divider to be comfortably placed between them; we’d have like a 18 inches worth of width between each divider (which is not a lot). Unless one has true paruresis (shy bladder syndrome), which can be overcome, we shouldn’t need to care. We learned to change in the locker room; I believe this is quite similar issue.

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  2. WE NEED MORE BATHROOMS, THAT’S THE REAL PROBLEM!!! I always walk to the closest bathroom and it is always the wrong gendered one, I don’t think that’s just the problem though, because the two bathrooms we do have are always full at break and passing periods. Walking across the school when you are about to pee your pants is a terrible feeling, and I have to do it almost every time, or get in and have this stall problem and have to wait.

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