A Nationwide Conflict: Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Staff Writer: Santana Lozano

States all across America are facing the same issue: should gender-neutral bathrooms replace traditional men and woman bathrooms? Some states are beginning to open up to the new bathroom ideas but some still stand steadily on the belief that restrooms should remain as they always have.

The noise that draws attention to this topic is coming from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and their friends, family and supporters around the U.S. Some states are hearing the noise and acting on the issue, while other states are closing their ears and ignoring the uproar.

Miraloma Elementary School, in San Francisco, California, recently got rid of separate bathrooms for boys and girls. They made the decision after a few parents came forward and explained to the school that their child isn’t gender specific. “We changed the signs, we changed the way we teach our students that we don’t have girl and boy restrooms, we have restrooms,” says Principal Sam Bass to KGO.

These bathroom changes have only been made in the Kindergarten and first grade classrooms, though they plan to soon change the rest of them. There have been no complaints from parents to the school. “I haven’t heard a single parent say they didn’t like this or thought it was unnecessary,” says PTA President Ellen Schatz.

A huge protest of over 100 students broke out at Hillsboro High School in Missouri after a transgender student was given permission to use the girl’s bathroom and locker room. Lila Perry, 17-years-old, told PEOPLE Magazine that she received very hateful repercussions from her classmates in person and over the internet.

As the 100 students protested, Perry hid in the guidance counselor’s office for two hours. “With the extremes they’re taking it to, the amount of hatred and disrespect they’re spewing out, that kind of gives it away that this is more about hate than it is anything else,” said Perry.

Gender-neutral restrooms are becoming the law in Philadelphia. Many officials are signing a legislation that requires new or renovated city-owned buildings to include gender neutral bathrooms in addition to traditional men and woman bathrooms. As Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, signed the legislation he says he hopes Philadelphia will become the most “LGBT friendly” city in the world.

President Obama is a strong supporter of the LGBT community. The White House opened its first all-gender restroom in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. This was seen as a symbolic step by President Obama to protect the rights of this community. He doesn’t stop at restrooms, though. President Obama also endorsed same-sex marriage and called for an end to psychiatric therapies that seek to change the orientation of gay, lesbian and transgender youth.

In Florida, the “Bathroom Surveillance Bill” would ban transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms except those designated for their gender at birth. Similar bills have been introduced in Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Arizona.

Northeast Portland’s Grant High School has created six unisex bathrooms after concerns were reported from transgender students who were uncomfortable with using traditional bathrooms.

Vice Principal Kristyn Westphal said, “We just need to make sure that all students are safe and comfortable here. If they feel unsafe using the bathroom, that’s a problem.” Scott Morrison, a transgender student at Grant High School, says he would refrain from drinking water throughout the day because using the bathroom was so stressful to him. He was very grateful after the bathroom changes were made and said, “You don’t even have to think about it, and that’s great.”

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