Creating safe spaces for all genders is an issue in many institutions. According to the Williams Institute, 70 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming people face problems with gendered bathrooms, and 54 percent of this demographic report health effects due to avoiding public restrooms.
Nonbinary students at SCHS, too, face difficulties when finding safe spaces for all genders. Many nonbinary students feel uncomfortable in gendered locker rooms and they believe it is the Physical Education department’s responsibility to make sure that all students feel represented and comfortable.
According to Physical Education Department Chair Brittney Codera, nonbinary locker rooms are available for nonbinary and transgender students by request.
“We have created two safe spaces for anyone who is either transitioning or would just like a gender-neutral area to change,” Codera said. “We have one on each side of the locker rooms and we have had them used every quarter.”
Sophomore Moon Jackson is one of the students using these locker rooms.
“In general, I don’t like having gendered locker rooms too much,” Jackson said. “However, I am happy with the way they handled my locker room situation because they used one of the locker rooms for sports, so I have that locker room to myself now.”
Even though these locker rooms are available to SCHS students, some believe that they are not accessible enough and many are not aware that they exist. Most of the students using them right now have either reached out personally or through a counselor to the P.E. department asking for access.
Jackson was able to access these locker rooms, but it took an intervention from their parents.
“I have very supportive parents who emailed the P.E. teachers a lot, so that was how I was able to get my locker room,” Jackson said.
Codera is not aware if students know about the locker rooms but is trying to make them more available to all students.
“I don’t know if all students feel accepted or if they feel comfortable talking to their teachers, but I feel like as a staff, we are trying to have as much opportunity for them to be supported as we possibly can,” Codera said. “Whether or not they know our resources, maybe we could do a better job of doing that.”
Junior Mars Caldwell believes that lockers for nonbinary students should be more accessible.
“It’s hard to kind of tell some random teacher about it, but if there is just an ability to just say, ‘I want to use this gender-neutral bathroom or this gender-neutral changing room,’ you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to them. It should be more accessible,” Caldwell said.
Jackson agrees that locker rooms should be more available.
“There should be options for students who do not feel comfortable in locker rooms so that it’s more inclusive and more open, and students that may feel more afraid to ask for their own locker room have that choice open to them,” Jackson said.
Codera wants students to know that the P.E. department is trying their best to support them. If students need help finding a more comfortable environment, they should reach out to their P.E. teacher or coach.
“We hope that students feel supported in whatever class they are in, and if they don’t, come talk to us. We are all here for any student on campus,” Codera said.