Speaking up for Students who need Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Before a month or so ago, I had no idea that Glenwood Springs High School even had a gender-neutral bathroom. When I did find out, it surprised me. How had I been attending GSHS for over a year and never noticed?

 

Well, for one, it’s tucked away in the drama hallway. And yes, you heard me right; It. Singular. There is one gender-neutral toilet available for genderqueer students to use in the entire school building.

 

Of course, there are technically two of them in the drama hallway, but one sports a STAFF ONLY sign, and the other ones throughout the school are also supposed to be staff-only bathrooms. So what does that leave our students with? One gender-neutral bathroom.

 

I myself am a genderqueer student attending GSHS, and as I’ve learned more about and accepted my identity, using the women’s restroom grows more and more uncomfortable. But every day I’m forced to use the girl’s bathroom at school for multiple reasons. The first, of course, is due to the fact that there is only one gender-neutral toilet in the entire school. I’m aware that this is how the building was built, but the fact that there is only one, especially in this day and age, is a bit ridiculous to me.

 

Xavion, a senior at GSHS, said that having access to gender-neutral bathrooms is, “very important,” to him. 

 

But because there’s only one, it’s often taken up by other students. Additionally, I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I see using it are cisgender. This is obviously completely fine, and all students should be allowed to use gender-neutral bathrooms, but this still makes it all the more difficult for genderqueer students to use the restroom they need.

 

Xavion said that they, “once debated going over to the city market bathroom because I had to go pee once, and the bathroom was locked all day.” He said that he also gets, “death stares when I walk into either [the mens’ or womens’] bathroom,” but, “it’s worse when I go into the men’s bathroom.”

 

Secondly, the bathroom transgender and genderqueer students do have is in a very inconvenient location. If a student is in an upstairs classroom or the sports hallway, they better have a good reason for why it took them so long to go to the bathroom. Some classrooms are relatively close to it, but the majority of the time it’s way too inconvenient to walk all the way there. And even if someone is in a nearby classroom, there’s no guarantee that it will be unlocked when they get there.

 

Lastly, a point I regret having to make: It’s the bathroom everyone uses when they need to do a number-two. I mean, it’s perfectly understandable, but occasionally it’s reeked so bad in that room I couldn’t even use it.

 

I’m not saying that students shouldn’t be allowed to use the gender-neutral bathroom for those sorts of reasons, but it is really difficult for those of us who truly need to use that restroom when all of these factors are put together. It’s often occupied, too far away, or smells so foul it could singe your nose hairs, so it’s almost like the school doesn’t even have a gender-neutral bathroom.

 

However, brainstorming solutions to this issue is the main roadblock; No one can seem to think of a perfect answer. A freshman named Ash said, “we could put one of those passcode beepers on the door and only the people who are allowed to use it know the passcode.” While this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, the passcode could be leaked and eventually a lot of people would know it, whether they had permission or not.

 

One of the more creative ideas, though, was to, “put a time limit on the lights.”

 

Ash said, “they would shut off if you stay in there for too long and won’t turn back on until you open the door and leave for at least three.”

 

It’s the 21st century and about time that administrators were made aware of this issue. No, it isn’t life or death, but it is very important that genderqueer students are given more bathrooms that they could feel just as comfortable in as their cisgender peers.

 

Obviously, these bathrooms will likely be single-stalled and therefore still few in numbers, but it would make a big difference for those who need them. Therefore, I propose that some of the staff restrooms be opened up for students to use, or at least those who get special permission to use them. That way all of those attending GSHS will feel comfortable, safe, and accepted in our community.