Designated Gender Neutral Bathrooms to Open at SHS

Recently proposed and approved, planning is now underway

Source: Lavallee Brensinger Architects
BY OLIVER SIGOUIN, STAFF WRITER

SANFORD, ME – As directed by SHS Diversity Committee, gender-neutral bathrooms will soon be open to students in every wing of the school.

Gender-neutral bathrooms are helpful to not only LGBT students but also any other student who may feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a men’s or women’s exclusive restroom. They are typically a single-stall bathroom that is not designated for one gender or another.

Recently, it’s come to light that transgender students have reportedly been harassed and bullied when using the bathroom of the gender they identify as.

Mx. Swift, a history and civics teacher here at SHS believes, “If we have students who are feeling unsafe going to the bathroom, or uncomfortable or somehow triggered by dysphoria1 from going to the bathroom, then we have failed at meeting the basic, basic needs of our students.”

Because of this bullying, offering a safer option seemed like the most logical next step for the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which proposed this to Mr. Petermann last Tuesday.

Currently, there are two gender-neutral bathrooms known to be available to students, one in the nurse’s office and one in the special education wing. However, these aren’t always easily accessible during class and are on opposite sides of the school.

A suggestion was to use one of the two single-stall teacher restrooms in each wing. Petermann shared, “I think taking one out of service for staff to provide this service for students, actually makes a ton of sense,” noting that the most pressing issues would be changing the locks and figuring out signage.

Teachers and administration involved want trans and gender non-conforming students to know that they care about their safety and comfort in these spaces.

“You tell me that you’re struggling with your gender identity, that’s all I need to know,” said Petermann. “Maybe it’s not a struggle, maybe you’re transitioning, but I think for some of our kids it is a struggle. And how do you help? I think this is going to be a big help.”

Going forward, this should be a huge step for Sanford in terms of diversity and inclusion.

1The distress/discomfort in one’s gender assigned at birth, usually experienced by transgender people

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