Unisex single bathrooms pave way for change

Bathrooms allow.... alternative facilities for all students

Amelia Lytle and Ben Morrissey

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As the conversation about gender identity and safety becomes more prominent, New Trier students and faculty are embracing the new unisex single bathrooms in the school.

“It allows for students and adults to have an option. They now can have an option that is not far away from instruction,” Winnetka Principal Denise Dubravec explained.

Single bathrooms existed near the Gaffney Auditorium, but with the new construction the administrators thought it was time for these bathrooms to extend to more accessible parts of the school.

“I can’t speak for entire student body, but I wouldn’t judge someone for using it.”

These bathrooms now exist on the first and second floor near the entrance of the school, and are available for students, staff, and guests.

A main consideration when installing these bathrooms was for the safety of the students using them.

At Palatine High School,  a group of parents asked for the assimilation of unisex bathrooms to support people of all genders. There was a public dispute over a transgender students’ access to bathrooms and locker rooms, which sparked the conversation across the nation.

The federal government pressured the district to allow the student access to the girls locker room.

“We stand committed to the basic principle that no student should be left out, treated differently, or stigmatized because of who they are,” the group of parents wrote. “We also strongly believe that discrimination towards a group of students hurts the entire District 211 community.”

Students had mixed feelings about using the new restrooms because of what others might think. “I can’t speak for entire student body, but I wouldn’t judge someone for using it. The majority of the student body wouldn’t bat an eye,” senior Duncan Holzhall said.

Senior Austin Miranda explained that “there will not be any issues with face to face bullying when people see other people going into these bathrooms, but there will most likely be some gossip that will negatively impact people who use these bathrooms.”

The unisex bathrooms are new and that has caused some concern over the potential reaction of students after seeing another student come out of the unisex bathroom.

Due to the separation of these bathrooms, a student may feel singled out by using them. However, many students said they would feel comfortable using the bathrooms and would not feel judged by others.

More unisex bathrooms are being built in public spaces and that has helped people be more comfortable with their existence.

Schools in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Illinois have created unisex bathrooms or single stall bathrooms as the Obama administration has called on public schools nationwide to allow transgender students access to the bathroom that matches their identity.

This nationwide awareness of transgender issues are causing changes to take place in schools across the country.

To accommodate the growing needs of students, schools of 2016 may be vastly different than the schools that exist even 20 years from now.

As unisex bathrooms become more common in public places such as Starbucks and Target, schools are following this lead and building more of these facilities to try to accommodate their student body.

Dubravec discussed how important it is to think about what kind of student body a school has and how having these bathrooms would affect a student’s day to day life.

“I think they need to think about what works for their school. But for New Trier it is a great opportunity to allow students to have this option. They need to think about providing options and how it will allow for a safe environment,” Dubravec said.

The reaction from the student body over the new unisex bathrooms is mostly positive. Students believe that a safer environment for students and more options for everyone will result from more unisex bathrooms.

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