CAMPUS: Rather than providing inclusivity on campus, some believe the new gender-neutral bathrooms are misused despite their intentions

For many members of the LGBTQ+ community, finding an appropriate and safe space to utilize a facility is essential yet often a struggle. This year, SCHS has implemented new and more accessible all-gender bathrooms for students on campus after years of advocating by the LGBTQ+ Club and LGBTQ+ district committees.

Sophomore Ren Brown, president of the LGBTQ+ club, mentioned their past experience with the facilities and the new implementations.

“We (SCHS) never actually had gender-neutral bathrooms,” Brown said. “It was a big step to actually have those.”
Ren Brown Sophomore
While the newly-added bathrooms may symbolize a development in inclusivity for some, others feel they are still far from perfection. Sophomore Sophia Stearns mentioned one of the biggest issues is overcrowding in the bathrooms during lunch and breaks.

“When I try to use the restroom, it’s like a maze trying to get through the people,” Stearns said.

Brown explained that the root of the issues lies within a miscommunication of the gender-neutral bathrooms, as many students are not aware of them.

“On the first day of school, I kind of was like, ‘Oh, they’re here and that’s great,’” Brown said. “Not a lot of people will know that.”

Brown also explained that the lack of communication and awareness leaves students unaware of the general rules, leading to further issues, including what many feel is the inappropriate social outlet created in the space.

Since the gender-neutral bathrooms are placed across from a gendered bathroom, many students often view them as bathrooms for the gender opposite to the one across from it rather than a gender-neutral accessible restroom. Brown explained the original issue with the implementation of the bathrooms.

“At the school, we can’t build new bathrooms,” Brown said. “The best option was to change the boys bathroom or one of the girls bathrooms into just a gender-neutral bathroom.”

Students find this still leaves a major gender divide, causing people only of a specific gender to use them. Sophomore Briana Bell shared an example of the situation.

“If there is a transgender guy who is not comfortable using the mens restroom so he uses the non-binary bathroom, which is like the girls bathroom, that wouldn’t be the most comfortable for them (the transgender boy),” Bell said.

SCHS Principal Gregory Shelby discussed the achievement of implementing the new bathrooms.

“We’ve been working for years with our LGBTQ+ community, and this has been a frequent request. It is something that we have been trying to do for quite a few years,” Shelby said. “We knew that we needed the district to act in order to allow us to act, and we finally got them to do that.”
Despite the situations from overcrowding to not enough inclusivity in the bathrooms, many students and staff still appreciate that they are a step forward toward creating a more safe and welcoming school environment.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ Club are also happy to finally see change in what they have been working toward. According to Shelby, gender-neutral bathrooms are not the only change to increase inclusivity. He also talked about implementing a gender-neutral locker room.

“We are trying to reevaluate anywhere we see any sort of implicit bias,” Shelby said.

Both Shelby’s and the members of the LGBTQ+ Club’s goal are to make the campus a safer and more inclusive place for everyone.

“We were one of the first schools in the area to have a Gay-Straight Alliance, and we want to continue to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ+IA students,” Shelby said.