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The Last Facet of Segregation in Schools

Although for the most part an extremely liberal and open-minded campus, Terra Linda High School still lags behind the times in one aspect: the lack of a non-gender binary restrooms. From Des Moines to Los Angeles and even nearby at Novato and Miller Creek, all-gender inclusive restrooms are quickly spreading across American public schools. As school administrations finally come to the realization that not all students are cisgender (gender corresponding to their sex at birth), restrooms that meet their needs are a necessity to create a safe, open space for all students.

While not all students need an elevator, certain groups of students rely on its existence in order to participate in classes and navigate our campus. Why should we alienate the gender queer minority of students by not installing bathrooms so they can feel comfortable? The introduction of all-gender restrooms would also not force transgender students to make a decision every time they need to use the bathroom. Assistant Principal Lauren Inman’s Student Voice Council proposed retrofitting two of the four gendered multi-stall bathrooms on campus to all-gender restrooms in order to create a more inconspicuous option for non-gender binary students. In contrast, a single key required stall forces students to go out of their way daily where the rest of the student body has the luxury of using the main public restrooms.

Fortunately, Principal Katy Dunlap is extremely passionate about the issue, lamenting the fact Terra Linda doesn’t have an all-gender restroom already. When prompted about the possibility of renovating and converting two of the four gender segregated restrooms, Dunlap explained that anything with a budget would require involving the district office. Looking into the long term solution, Dunlap suggested prioritizing the building of all-gender restrooms for the new student library, cafeteria, and STEM center, as bond money has already been set aside for their construction.

While the prospect of having these restrooms in the future is great for the next generation of TL students, non-gender binary students still currently have nowhere to go bathroom-wise. Dunlap proposed removing the signage and key-lock of a previously teacher-only restroom in the Science hall as a short-term solution to the issue. While it is only a single lock restroom, it is centrally located and easily accessible to the student body.

 

The interior of one of Novato High’s multi-stall, renovated all-gender restrooms.

Although many students say they’d feel comfortable using an all-gender restroom provided there are no cracks in between stalls to ensure privacynot all are comfortable with the idea yet. Logan Barr, a sophomore and one of TL’s transgender students, agrees that, while it’s great in theory, he worries that the student body isn’t ready to accept such a mature concept. Specifically, his main concerns are that people won’t take it seriously, explaining “it would just turn into a girls bathroom that guys go into because they think it’s funny.”

At a federal level, things are looking bleak for trans and non-gender binary students. Last February, Donald Trump revoked essential protections introduced by the Obama administration allowing students to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity, meaning not dictated by their sex at birth. Unfortunately, this left students in states such as North Carolina stranded and vulnerable to the harsh policies of state lawmakers, stripping them of their individual identity by implementing and encouraging outdated ideology about the definition of gender.

During these turbulent political times, it’s more important than ever for Terra Linda to support a safe space for all students to use the restroom, objective of gender.

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