The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

New gender-neutral bathrooms debated

New+gender-neutral+bathrooms+debated

Gendered bathrooms are an issue that is being debated all over the country. One of the biggest aspects of this controversy is the issue of whether schools should provide gender neutral bathrooms for transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming students to use.

The Walter Johnson administration attempted to convert a restroom to be gender neutral a couple of years ago. However, students felt uncomfortable using it due to the isolated location from the rest of the school and it was eventually shut down.

“Kids weren’t comfortable using the bathroom in that location because it was sort of off by itself,” security team leader Howard Beaubien said.

This year, the administration is trying again to provide a gender neutral bathroom alternative. An email was sent to school staff by Principal Jennifer Baker, outlining the 2017-2018 plans to institute more gender neutral options.

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Students, including members of the school’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance and the Students Against Inequality Club, have been asking the school to provide this option for a long time.

“Last year, I met with the principal and we spoke about the gender neutral bathrooms,” Jordan Neave, a senior who uses they/them pronouns, said. “Seeing it actually start happening was very exciting. It made me feel like students can make a difference.”

Not everyone in the school supports the changes, however. The opposition to gender neutral restrooms has many reasons in the debate across the country. Some people are morally opposed to the option, believing that gender is binary and that people should use the bathroom of their assigned sex. Others disagree with the move because they see it as impractical to implement.

“The only problem I have with gender neutral bathrooms is the money it takes to fund them,” junior Josh Franks said. “I feel that it’s an absurd issue for us to talk about when we have other issues that are way more important… we would be better off if everyone would just use their biological bathroom.”

While some may believe that gender neutral bathroom options should not be a priority, those who support the change are arguing that even this seemingly insignificant option is necessary to make nonbinary and gender nonconforming students feel comfortable in the school environment.

“The new gender neutral bathrooms are really great for… all students really. [This is great for] nonbinary students specifically who don’t feel that their gender aligns with male or female bathrooms,” senior Lee Reber, the president of the school’s GSA, said. “This is so important because students don’t always feel safe in male or female bathrooms.”

Neave and Reber, and other students passionate about this issue, believe that the two proposed bathrooms are not enough and that eventually more bathrooms should be converted. However, they agree that this is definitely an important move by administration.

Reber also has ideas for more actions administration and staff can take to support non-binary and transgender students.

“Keep themselves educated, and keep themselves up-to-date on different transgender issues and LGBT issues as a whole. Provide students and staff with new, up-to-date information on how they can support each other,” Reber suggested.

A girl’s bathroom near room G02 was converted into a gender neutral bathroom on October 23, and plans are being made to convert a men’s staff bathroom on the main floor into a gender neutral one.

“I think it is a big step in the right direction but we are not done,” Neave said. “Somebody shouldn’t have to go through more than others just because of their gender.”

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About the Contributor
Yael Hanadari-Levy
Yael Hanadari-Levy, Editor In Chief
This is senior Yael Hanadari-Levy’s second year working on the Pitch and first year as editor-in-chief. She doesn’t have any free time between school, her internship and the Pitch, but if she did she would probably spend it writing. Yael is an officer in the GSA and the WJ She’s The First chapter, and is a member of Feminism Club.
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