Let me pose a scenario.
I’m a student at Fountain Valley High School. I walk outside the bungalows and my bladder is full. I catch a glimpse of the lines forming outside of the girls’ and boys’ restrooms.
I don’t feel like I belong to either of these groups. I don’t feel safe walking into either of these restrooms. But I have to go. What if they look at me funny? What if they ask me about my gender identity? I want to go, but the closest unlocked restroom to me is at the front office.
The gender-neutral bathrooms on campus are not accessible enough. This needs to change.
There are a handful of “gender-neutral” bathrooms on campus, but the only one that isn’t marked for staff use or locked is in the office. There is a restroom in the front office; one gender-neutral student restroom.
But it’s not even listed on the map, so how are trans and nonbinary students supposed to find it?
While cisgender students can access bathrooms without a second thought, the process trans and nonbinary students have to go through to comfortably access a bathroom is excessive. They may have to actively search for a teacher they trust, ask them for the key, walk right back to the class and give the key back – all without drawing attention to themselves.
Without allowing trans and nonbinary students to use gender-neutral restrooms accessibly, they are just here for show. They’re only here to avoid a diversity lawsuit. Not allowing trans and nonbinary students to freely access these bathrooms completely misses the point of a 2017 California law that requires public, single-use restrooms to be designated as “All-Gender” in order to, among other things, “eliminate the fears and frustration that many people experience in restrooms on a daily basis.”
Apparently, to the Huntington Beach Unified High School District, “gender-neutral” is nothing but a buzzword. If staff bathrooms are staff bathrooms, label them as such. Don’t give trans students false hope.
Listen to the experiences of Fountain Valley’s trans and nonbinary students.
“For me, I do feel anxious using gendered bathrooms, even more so with the locker room. Adding gender-neutral bathrooms would help accommodate the diverse population at our school and provide students with a safe space,” said junior Alexander Pham, who is gender non-conforming.
Junior Jesse Atherton is an out, trans student, who feels unwelcome by the lack of gender-neutral restrooms on campus.
“Inclusive restroom accommodation for students that identify under the transgender umbrella would definitely allow transgender students to feel more accepted and acknowledged,” Atherton said.
In order to fully comply with the law and its intentions, administration should dedicate one or two of these staff bathrooms to student use. The student-to-teacher ratio at FVHS is roughly 28:1. There’s no reason why trans and nonbinary students at our school should be constrained to just one bathroom.
Another way to make trans and nonbinary students more comfortable is for teachers to leave their restroom key in a designated place so they can discreetly take it and use the restrooms comfortably.
FVHS — unlock the doors to open doors for a more inclusive learning environment.