The Importance of Gender Inclusive Restrooms

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The Importance of Gender Inclusive Restrooms

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In the past year the University of Iowa has installed 150 gender inclusive restrooms, yet we have yet to follow its lead. The lack of gender inclusive restrooms can keep students from feeling safe and accepted while going through their day, oftentimes preventing students from focusing and performing their best in their studies.

There is one simple fix to the lack of security, one that states across the nation have been picking up on. In the past year, the issue of gender inclusive bathrooms have been becoming more and more intense. During the past election, the rights of the members of the LGBTQ+ community suffered both wins and losses. Yet the problem still remains widely unaddressed here in Iowa City and at City High.

“Since we’ve been put into these two genders I feel like people are either disgusted or just don’t care about gender neutral bathrooms,” Sam Grove ‘17 said. “It’s been pushed away and isn’t seen as important.”

Here at City we have a few gender inclusive restrooms but they’re either far out of the way or kept under lock and key. While we do have more than just the one gender inclusive restroom, all of the others are for staff purposes and you have to have a key to get in, taking away the easy access that is needed for trans students. Though students have a shortage of accessible gender inclusive restrooms, the school does have a surplus of of gendered restrooms with at least two men and women’s on each floor.

It can’t be denied, the need for gender inclusive restrooms exists. There are even students that even go without using the restroom because of how uncomfortable they feel using the gendered restrooms.

“I think gender-neutral restrooms are an important way to make everyone in our community and other communities feel accepted,” Mira Bohannan Kumar ’20 stated.

The lack of gender inclusive restrooms creates unnecessary stress on students. When you don’t identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, using the restroom in public places is no easy feat.

“Gender neutral restrooms should be in Iowa City and here at City High,” Bohannan Kumar ’20 said. “I know that people have difficulties with this and high school is such a confusing and sometimes hard time, no one needs to have extra stress every time they use the bathroom. City High is an accepting and open environment, and I think the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms would reflect that.”

Say one was born female but identifies as male. Going in the women’s restroom would not only be uncomfortable, but it’s a reminder that in our society one isn’t considered valid or normal. While going into the men’s restroom would be more comfortable for oneself, one would most likely receive some sort of reaction that would make you feel unwelcome.

Creating a gender-neutral restroom is simple and harmless. Changing just one restroom to a gender inclusive restroom wouldn’t have any impact on cisgendered (identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth) students, nor would it take much work. Just switch out a few signs and you’ve created a safe place for trans and questioning students. This switch wouldn’t even necessarily take a bathroom away from cisgendered students, the goal of gender inclusive restrooms is to include everyone and make sure no one feels left out or unsafe.

“The past election hasn’t really changed what people think about gender neutral restrooms,” Zi Parks ’20 explained about how many people view gender inclusive restrooms. “People are just voicing it more.”

In March of 2016 Pat McCrory, former governor of North Carolina, signed a law stating that one had to use a public restroom that corresponded with their sex assigned at birth. To say this sparked an outrage would be an understatement, as many protests sprung up across the state. Finally, after the protests, the North Carolina government released that they would repeal the law.

“Having more gender neutral restrooms ensures that people will feel welcome wherever they go,” Zi Parks ’20 explained. “People will feel more comfortable going places knowing they can use the restroom without worrying about being told  they are not the gender that they’re presenting as.”

Everyone deserves to feel safe. Especially in places they have to go every day.