Gender Neutral Bathrooms in US

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by OrangeFlorian, May 17, 2016.

  1. OrangeFlorian

    OrangeFlorian Anon Supreme Senior Member

    Apr 29, 2016
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    Until recently, one West Seattle High School student who was born female but looks masculine didn’t feel comfortable using any of the gender-specific bathrooms at school. So she’d leave campus and cross the street to go to Hiawatha Community Center, where there are more-private bathrooms where no one would give her odd looks.

    After hearing her story and many others from classmates who also feel uncomfortable using men’s or women’s bathrooms, students in West Seattle High’s Gay-Straight Alliance decided their school needed its first gender-neutral bathroom.

    Last month, they succeeded, officially dedicating the bathroom with a toilet-paper-cutting ceremony, which was first reported in the West Seattle Blog.

    It’s among the first gender-neutral bathrooms in a Seattle school — and the Puget Sound area.

    Formerly a small unused women’s restroom with just three stalls, the bathroom is now marked “all-gender restroom” underneath a symbol of a toilet.

    “We’re hoping we can nurture a school environment that is more comfortable for all our students,” said senior Ally Finn, an alliance member.

    That’s a step beyond what the Obama administration ordered last week — the right of transgender youth to use public-school bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

    The announcement came shortly after the U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina over its law requiring transgender people to use public restrooms and showers that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate. A campaign in Washington state is gathering signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot that would have similar requirements.

    The Obama directive mirrors Washington state policy. Public schools here must allow students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, and all students — whether they identify as transgender or not — must have access to an alternative restroom if they want more privacy.

    “The guidance issued … by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice affirms that Washington is doing the right thing for our students,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “At a time the rights of transgender students and men and women are under attack throughout the country — and even in our state — I applaud the Obama administration for establishing policies that will better provide all our children an opportunity to thrive.”

    Eventually, the students would like the bathroom to have even more privacy.

    “We want to make it just one or two single stalls,” sophomore Cal Prinster said. “Unfortunately, we’re not plumbers, so we’re not sure.”

    They hope to inspire other schools to follow their lead, and may present their proposal to the Seattle School Board. For now, they’re enjoying the positive response they’ve received, especially from students who use the new bathroom.

    Junior Emma Petty, who identifies as gender nonconforming, is one who’s applauding the new facility.

    “People are accepting and giving us a safe space,” Petty said. “They’re acknowledging that I exist, and that’s OK.”

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