Gender neutral bathrooms policy reversed


Illustration by Patsy Carolan

Mia Merchant, co-opinions editor

South’s administration decided to revise their policy regarding the gender neutral bathrooms, located by the freshman cafeteria. Previously, they were locked daily after 3:00 p.m. due to safety concerns. This policy was reversed after students raised concerns, and bathrooms will remain unlocked after school. 

The bathrooms were closed because students made poor choices in them, Ronald Bean, assistant principal and dean of students, said. The bathrooms couldn’t be supervised because there wasn’t enough staff, Bean said.

“We  decided to lock the gender neutral bathrooms after school because there are other bathrooms that people can use,” Bean explained.

Junior Dan Allen* uses the gender neutral bathrooms because he is a transgender male and the mens’ bathrooms are not always a safe option for him. They also do not have sanitary napkin trash cans, Allen said. Allen discovered the policy change in early October when he tried to use the bathroom after school and found he could not, he said. Allen stressed that the decision was unfairly affecting certain people.

“I think they punished kids who aren’t the problem for the choices others are making,” Allen said.

Bean said he had assumed that because no one had come forward, it wasn’t making an impact on student life. Bean, however, was open to students expressing concerns about the policy. “When we decided to lock [the bathrooms] after school, we talked about revisiting if we were creating situations where people didn’t have a bathrooms that they were comfortable in,” Bean said.

Concerns expressed by students gave the administration a reason to reevaluate their decision as of this past month, Dr. Lara Cummings, assistant principal for student services, said.

“We put students first in  decisions we make,” Cummings said. “After hearing concerns of students not feeling comfortable, it made us rethink [our decision]. ”

While there are still safety concerns with the bathrooms, making sure all students are comfortable is a high priority, Cummings said.

“I really appreciate that our administrative team [is] willing to reevaluate.” Cummings said. “We are always willing to put our students first and reconsider decisions that were made.”

The administration makes decisions like these on a case-by-case basis, Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel said. Their initial thought process was that closing the bathrooms after school would not be an issue because there were fewer students, and most students who typically used the gender neutral bathrooms during the school day would feel comfortable using bathrooms elsewhere, Fagel explained.

“Our approach as an administrative team is to trust that students are going to make good decisions,” Fagel said.

Freshman Agatha Mitchell, who is non-binary and gender fluid, emphasized that students are going to find places to do unsafe things anywhere. They agreed with Fagel that non-binary students should not be thrown under the bus because of a few students’ poor choices. The administration should communicate with students who are affected, Mitchell said.

“Talk with the kids [that] this concerns,” Mitchell said. “It’s hard to face stigma everyday and have this internal war going on.”

Fagel said she appreciates when students come forward and share their feelings with the administration.

“I’ve shown that I’m not afraid to admit when a decision we made is not the best and to change it,” Fagel said. “I would encourage students to advocate for when they feel like things aren’t going as they should.”

*Names have been changed