Gender-Neutral Bathrooms and Their Place in Schools


Andrew Fu

Irvington has installed a gender-neutral bathroom in the 200s wing.

Andrew Fu, Staff Writer

The subject of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms has been hotly debated upon for the past few years and was only recently introduced to Fremont schools through Assembly Bill 1732. This bill stated that “any one-toilet bathroom in a California school…will have to be designated as all-gender, open to anyone.” According to Irvington’s Assistant Principal, Monica Guzman, the Irvington administration covered signs of certain staff bathrooms with tape to serve as Gender-Neutral bathrooms earlier this year. These actions should be embraced by students, not shunned. The presence of these bathrooms serves to decrease gender-related bullying and allow transgender students to be more comfortable with their environment.

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms provide transgender students with satisfactory surroundings while also reducing the gender-related harassment. When a person does not fit into a specific gender, it can be very difficult for them to choose a side. Many transgender students have been kicked out of bathrooms of both genders while being accused of attempting sexual assault.

Statistics from “Transgender Bullying: A National Epidemic” indicated that gender-related harassment correlated with higher rates of depression, suicide, and drug abuse.

A study done by Chapman University in April of 2017 found that transgender middle school and high school students in California were more likely to suffer from substance abuse compared non-transgender adolescents. The study showed these students to be 2.5 times more likely to use cocaine or methamphetamine in their lifetime, 2.8 times more likely to report using an inhalant in the past 30 days, and more than 3 times as likely to use cigarettes in school.

The presence of gender-neutral bathrooms can decrease these forms of harassment by giving students a specific place to go when using the restroom. Instead of a bathroom dominated by gender-segregation, these students can be in a place where they “belong”.

Earlier this year, The Mercury News reported that the San Jose Unified School District introduced gender-neutral bathrooms in schools, and the transition from gender-segregated bathrooms has been very peaceful. Matthew Hewitson, principal of San Jose’s Lincoln High, said he’s “heard no objections nor any upset reactions. The changeover and operation of unisex bathrooms…has been super smooth”

Many argue that gender-neutral bathrooms encourage sexual assault because students of the different genders would be able to use the same bathroom. However, statistics show that these chances are actually very low. Over 200 municipalities and 19 states in the United States allowed people to use bathrooms that correlated with their gender identity, and according to over twenty national law enforcement agencies, no cases of sexual assault were reported after the policies took effect.

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms should be implemented in schools to reduce bullying and create a safer, more accessible environment for transgender students. Creating gender-neutral bathrooms does not increase the rates of sexual assault, contrary to popular belief. While it may be easy to disregard the opinions of transgender individuals when the “problem” does not reside in oneself, we should comprehend their struggles and do our best to help them.