The+controversial+subject+of+gender+neutral+restrooms+has+become+widely+debated+as+the+school+moves+forward+with+plans+to+remodel.+

Kath Shelden (fae/they)

The controversial subject of gender neutral restrooms has become widely debated as the school moves forward with plans to remodel.

Point/counterpoint: gender neutral bathrooms

Gender-neutral restrooms are non-gendered bathrooms. They can have single- or multiple-stall layouts. Single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms accommodate the needs of disabled and gender non-conforming people.

Dec 19, 2022

Point: Having more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus would benefit everyone and they should be added as soon as possible.

Gender-neutral bathrooms are a necessity. It’s essential that more are added to campus before its upcoming remodel. They provide a much-needed safe space for gender non-conforming and transgender students, and adding more of them would make the gendered bathrooms less crowded. 

While there are several gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, they’re clustered on the far side of campus, near the gym, making them inaccessible to most of the student body. The 400 and 700 buildings each have one single-stall, gender-neutral bathroom. However, the 400 building bathroom is often occupied and only accessible to those taking art classes because the main doors of the building are locked. The gender-neutral bathroom in the 700 building is also often occupied. The new music building — also on the far side of campus — has several gender-neutral bathrooms, but non-music students aren’t allowed in the building during school hours. There are also gender-neutral bathrooms by the courtyard lockers, but they’re not single-stall, so they lack privacy. This could make many gender non-conforming students hesitant to use them. 

Privacy is important for gender non-conforming students who face being misgendered, outed or bullied because of their gender. According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an institution that champions LGBTQ+ inclusivity in K-12 schools, two-thirds of transgender students avoid gendered school bathrooms because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in them. Adding more single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms would ensure these students have a safe, private restroom to use. Currently, there aren’t enough gender-neutral bathrooms to accommodate the 1,616 students at Inglemoor, especially since several of them are inaccessible to gender non-conforming students.

LGBTQ+ students aren’t the only ones impacted by the lack of single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, as disabled students also have to deal with inaccessible gendered bathrooms. This means intersectional students, who are gender non-conforming and disabled, have to deal with the dual inaccessibility of the multiple-stall, gendered bathrooms on campus. While the gendered bathrooms do contain handicap stalls, these stalls are abused by able-bodied and minded students. These students occupy the stalls during lunches or class periods, displacing those who need them. 

It’s worth mentioning that adding single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms to campus would be expensive for the district. However, bathrooms are a necessity, and it’s worth the money to provide them. The approval of the 2022 NSD Capital Bond means that Inglemoor is in line to be renovated, and additional gender-neutral bathrooms are set to be part of this renovation. However, the renovation won’t take place for several years, as NSD is only in the planning stage of the project. So students will be without enough gender-neutral restrooms for the foreseeable future if the school chooses to wait until the renovation to add them.

NSD’s plan to add more gender-neutral bathrooms to its campuses is a single step in the journey to make our schools accessible, but there are students who need them now. Gender-neutral bathrooms should be added to our campus as soon as possible.

Counterpoint: The safety and practicality of gender-neutral bathrooms should be addressed before installing more on campus.

Gender-neutral bathrooms are vital for gender expression and serve as an inclusive space for people who are gender non-conforming and transgender. They’re key to eliminating gender discrimination and should be implemented. Before more gender-neutral bathrooms are installed on campus, however, issues of space, expenses and violence must be anticipated and addressed by administration. 

Currently, there are not enough bathrooms to accommodate the entire student population, leading to long lines and crowding. Worn-down stalls, broken stall locks, out-of-service toilets, and misuse of the space only amplify the problem. Before installing more gender-neutral bathrooms, there needs to be enough bathrooms to prevent long wait times and support the student body.

Single-stall bathrooms are impractical at a school with 1,616 students. Currently, students miss class time because of long bathroom lines. There isn’t enough space on campus for single-stall bathrooms that could support the entire student body. 

Furthermore, building multiple single-stall bathrooms would be expensive. Inglemoor’s discretionary budget for 2022-2023 is $314,732, which is not enough to build new bathroom buildings. 

Although gender-neutral bathrooms are meant to have a positive impact, single-stall, lockable bathrooms will be taken advantage of by students. In recent years, smoking in the bathrooms has become a significant problem on campus. According to the CDC, 38.9% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes for 20 or more of 30 days in 2020, and usage has only increased since then. In Nov. 2022, the Food and Drug Administration reported that 1 million middle and high school students disclosed they’re currently smoking any combustible tobacco product. Although the administration claims that vape detectors are working, students continue to vape without being caught or facing any consequences. 

Furthermore, multiple students spending time in one stall has become an increasing challenge despite the signs posted in bathrooms that remind students to only have one person per stall and not use phones. Smoking, crowds, phone use and skipping class are already problems in the bathrooms; having lockable, single-stall bathrooms will make these issues harder to police. 

A major concern for parents and administration is students abusing the privilege of having lockable, gender-neutral bathrooms to have sex at school. Not only will students have sex in lockable bathrooms, it is also such a private place that there’s a greater potential for sexual violence.

Restrooms at school need to be monitored to protect the safety of those using them. Sexual violence is common, and lockable bathrooms could be taken advantage of by abusers. According to the CDC, one in three women and about one in nine men have experienced sexual harassment in a public space. Sexual violence starts early, and schools should establish procedures to protect students from unsafe and inescapable instances of violence that could take place in gender-neutral, single-stall and lockable bathrooms. 

Gender-neutral bathrooms should be installed for a more inclusive campus, but not be done at the expense of safety and practicality. Single-stall bathrooms can be easily abused to smoke, skip class, or house violence. Therefore, before installation, the administration needs to have a plan for long waits, rule-breaking, expenses and dangers that accompany gender-neutral, single-stall bathrooms by adding more vape detectors, building enough bathrooms to support the student body and monitoring bathrooms more strictly for the safety of students.

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