Around campus, single-stall bathroom signs are indicated by white triangles, signaling that they are meant for all genders. These facilities can be found next to the 800s, in the 200s, 500s, the main office and nurse’s office.While the intent is to foster inclusion, these bathrooms further ostracize the transgender and gender non-conforming community at Bonita Vista High. Because all-gender restrooms are kept locked and thus are only available to teachers, they do the opposite of what they were intended.
One of the primary purposes behind all-gender bathrooms is to prevent the intimidation of trans people. Jacob Tobia, American LGBTQ rights activist, and gender non-conforming person highlights this concern by stating, “As a member of the trans community, I find that I’m constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place, or in this case, between a stall and a urinal. If I choose the women’s restroom, I risk facing panicked women who take one look at my facial hair and assume that I’m a predator. If I choose the men’s restroom, I risk facing transphobic men who, with one glance at my dangling earrings, begin hurling slurs or throwing punches.”
Tobia is not alone in his fear of being harassed in the bathroom. In fact, UCLA’s Williams Institute finds nearly 70% of transgender people said they had experienced verbal harassment in a situation involving gender-segregated bathrooms.
All-gender bathrooms are designed to give the transgender community the security to use the bathroom without fear of harassment or bullying. Privacy rights entitle people to be left alone and not to be intruded upon by others while conducting their personal business. Surely, bathrooms should be protected spaces.
Moreover, all-gender bathrooms are also necessary to create a message of inclusion. Trans people have equal rights to public safety and privacy as everyone else in society. These rights stem from our shared human dignity. To participate in public life and activities such as going to work or to school, we all need convenient access to sanitary bathrooms.
Fortunately, these needs are recognized by the California state government. In fact, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1732 last September, requiring that every one-toilet bathroom in a California school be designated as all-gender.
The problem arises when a student tries to use an all-gender bathroom and it is locked. BVH preaches its policy of inclusion and even establishes institutions to achieve this goal. Yet, when it comes to enforcing this decision, students cannot even access the resource BVH went through all the effort to create.
The current state of all-gender bathrooms at BVH frankly is baffling. With no public statement regarding locks on all-gender bathrooms, students are left wondering, “Does the administration realize we cannot access these bathrooms?” Or even worse, “Did our school only create these restrooms merely to adhere to state law?” While it is a waste of time to draw up conspiracy theories, questions like these leave students unsure of BVH’s stance on transgender inclusion.
In effect, these locked all-gender bathrooms merely create a facade, the illusion of accessible bathrooms to all. To use these bathrooms, a person would need permission from someone with the authority to unlock the door. Having to ask for permission to use the bathroom is not only insulting but would further contribute to feelings of isolation and frustration for those who currently feel excluded by the current binary bathroom system.
Our school administration recognizes the problem but has failed to reevaluate whether our current “all-gender bathrooms” actually solves the issue. The solution to our faulty system is not rocket science: remove the locks outside all-gender bathrooms. While gender bathrooms are by no stretch of the imagination the largest obstacle that the transgender community faces, they symbolize a small step towards making inclusion a reality.
Ultimately, regardless of one’s opinion towards the transgender community, the hypocrisy of the BVH all-gender policy is repugnant. Creating policies that unquestionably are not doing what they claim to do reveals a serious disconnect between the BVH administration and the student body. The answer is simple: unlock the bathrooms. This solution does not just open the all-gender bathrooms but unlocks inclusion and acceptance to the transgender community on campus.