By Sloane Clark and Noga Wald
As students at East Side probably know, we have gender neutral bathrooms on the first floor and on the third floor. Yes, it is good for the school to at least have one, but what about the people on the other floors? People in this school who aren’t within the binary of girl or boy, might feel uncomfortable or unsafe going into a bathroom for a girl or a boy. Don’t you think it would be hard for them? The absence of gender neutral bathrooms can severely hurt people who identify as transgender, gender neutral, and others - both physically and mentally.
Here is an opinion by Dylan Ray, a trans seventh grader at East Side who we interviewed on the importance of gender neutral bathrooms. He says, “It’s really inconvenient because, if I hypothetically did have to go to the bathroom, and I was on the 5th floor, I would have to take out a lot of class time to go to the bathroom on the 3rd or 1st floor. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know which bathroom to go in, because I don’t feel like I should go into the girls bathroom but I don’t think I should go into the guys bathroom. I feel if I went to the guys bathroom they would be like ‘ewww, a woman, in the guys bathroom, gross.’ I wouldn’t feel comfortable in there because I am not a woman. I don’t want to have to go all the way down the stairs just to go to the bathroom and feel comfortable in there. That is why I feel like there should be gender neutral bathrooms on every floor!” This shows how uncomfortable it can be for people to not have gender neutral bathrooms. This is just one example too!
According to the American Medical Association, gendered bathrooms can sometimes negatively affect people's mental health.“Exclusionary policies require transgender individuals to live one facet of their lives in contradiction with their gender identity,” the brief explains. Such “policies threaten to exacerbate the risk of anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, engaging in self-injurious behaviors, suicide, substance use, homelessness and eating disorders, among other adverse outcomes.” These are the most extreme situations yet they still happen.
In the beginning of the year, we gave the 7th graders a survey. We got promising results! We started off the survey explaining what the gender neutral bathrooms are, and asked them asked them if they think we should have them, and this is what they said; 50% of the 7th graders said yes, 30% said I don’t care and 3% said I still don't know what gender neutral bathrooms are. This doesn’t seem great at first, but only 5% said no! This is great news and just shows that more people in the 7th grade think that we should have gender neutral bathrooms than we shouldn’t.
This also proves the point that people need to be more educated on gender neutral bathrooms, so maybe next time, they will understand the importance and say yes, when we ask if we think they should have gender neutral bathrooms.
Why are there so few gender neutral bathrooms?
After all the evidence, and our clearly very inclusive school (pride flags in every classroom and all over the school), you might be thinking, why don’t we have more gender neutral bathrooms already?
Well, East Side’s principal, Mark Federman, says when we asked why there are only two gender neutral bathrooms right now, “Yeah mostly it's because of the space that we have. We took away teacher bathrooms/staff bathrooms to make them into gender neutral bathrooms. It really just has to do with the amount of space, there's just not a lot of potential bathrooms.” He also adds that he thinks that people want these bathrooms to be more private, and there aren’t a lot of bathrooms that are so private, but there will be big changes in the future, making more of these bathrooms available. Hopefully, this will lead to more gender neutral bathrooms!
We need gender neutral bathrooms!
As you can see, we need these gender neutral bathrooms! They are so important to our community at East Side and will make lots of kids happy, and more comfortable. What can you do to help? Make sure that you are educated on this topic of LGBTQ+ people so even if you aren’t one, you can empathize and know more about this problem and maybe even educate other people on it! East Side needs more gender neutral bathrooms!