The Gender Neutral Restroom is in Danger

Students misusing the Gender Neutral Restroom have compromised one of the only safe spaces for every student

Ash Jimenez, Reporter

City High’s gender neutral restroom has a problem. Initially pushed for by Bihotza James-Lejarcegui, who graduated in 2018, the restroom is intended to be safe for anyone to use, particularly those who don’t feel comfortable using other restrooms. Genderqueer students often don’t feel comfortable using a men’s or women’s room, so this one is intended to provide a place for those students. However, this place is often compromised by students who misuse it.

Some students find this restroom a convenient place to vape or smoke, without considering the smell they leave behind in the restroom. Of course, this problem isn’t necessarily confined to the gender neutral restroom, but this puts the restroom at risk. 

Collectively, the school does not care about the gender neutral restroom. Instead of addressing the true problem of students smoking, it’s common for the gender neutral restroom to be locked without any explanation or notice. After over a year of advocacy, GLOW club ensured that this is no longer the default solution to students smoking, but after all this uncertainty, students fear that it could happen again. 

Along with getting locked, the gender neutral restroom seems neglected in terms of maintenance. Half of the stalls do not have fully working locks. Additionally, this restroom is formerly a men’s room, meaning there are only 4 stalls. 

The restroom is misused by students and neglected by staff. But the solution can’t be that we don’t have gender neutral restrooms. Having gender neutral restrooms is important. According to GLSENs most recent school climate report, 45.2% of responding students avoid using restrooms at school because they are uncomfortable with the gendered spaces, and even then 28.4% of responding students report being prevented from using the restroom aligned with their gender identity. 

We need gender neutral restrooms. However, they must be treated just the same as other restrooms. Letting people think that gender neutral restrooms come second to the gendered restrooms is letting people make them unsafe. If someone is caught smoking in the gender neutral restroom, the student must face the exact same consequences as they would for smoking in any other restroom. If students report issues with the gender neutral restroom, it should be treated with the same urgency as an issue in any other restroom. We cannot treat the gender neutral restroom differently.

Students of any identity have the right to feel safe in their school, and this includes the restrooms. Nobody has the right to make them feel unsafe using the restrooms. We must demand that these restrooms are protected and maintained the same way that gendered restrooms are. If they are not, then we can never hope to claim that City High is a safe place for all students.