The All-Gender Bathroom is moving


Elliott Austin

These images show the outside of the all gender bathroom (top) and girl’s bathroom (bottom) which will be switching places.

Elliott Austin, Staff Writer

Elliott Austin

South has long held itself up as a pillar of progressivity and though many of the administration’s efforts are commendable, administration still has a long way to go to make the student population comfortable, especially when it comes to the nonbinary and genderfluid community. An all gender bathroom, where all students could do what they needed without scrutiny, used to be found in the back left corner of the “maze,” near the library. At the beginning of this school year, the bathroom was open again, but quickly shut down for safety reasons. The bathroom has been closed for months, however recently due to action by Social Worker Mx. Alicia Bauers and a group of students, admin has committed to change. When students return from winter break, the school will start the process of switching the girls bathroom on the second floor with the old all gender bathroom.

Carl Swanson, a senior who is helping Mx. Alicia, and brought the idea of switching the bathrooms forward, shared their experience with the all gender bathroom and its closure. “I feel like I can’t come to school sometimes because of this.” They say the process for them to use the bathroom has become incredibly complicated. After they get a pass, they check to see if the all gender bathroom is open, but it never is. Then they have to find a teacher or social worker and ask for a key to one of the staff bathrooms, then find them again to give the key back, and finally return to class. “I have to ask twice to go to the bathroom, I have to out myself to go to the bathroom…I have to do so much more to use the bathroom, which is such a basic human need.” Before it was closed, the gender neutral bathroom in the back corner of the maze, in a very isolated corner. It has a very small sign because people kept ripping it off the wall. Swanson described the unsafe conditions the bathroom was in when it was open. “It was always dirty, always things all over the floor. People would smoke constantly. Nine times out of ten there would be no working toilet.” They say that they, as well as many others, are upset that it’s closed but understand that it just wasn’t safe. “Even when it was open there was no gender neutral bathroom,” Swanson said. South needs an all gender bathroom because there are people who will refrain from using a bathroom all day because of this. “When we are asking for a new bathroom, it’s not some grasp for attention, this is an actual issue that needs to be addressed.” 

A few weeks ago, Mx. Alicia and the group of students met with Assistant Principal Edwards. He went to the district to request the girls bathroom and the gender neutral bathroom be switched. Surprisingly, there was basically no resistance to the idea. Mx. Alicia says that the district ultimately wants to make sure that we have a gender neutral bathroom option, and especially that it is safe for the student body. They were also happy with how quick the resolution was. “Mr. Edwards was really quick about it. He talked to them and was like ‘I want to get this moving as soon as possible. Let’s do it the first week after break,’” Mx. Alicia said. This is their first year at South and says they don’t know the history of the bathroom all that well, but they say there was a tension between kids needing to have the bathroom and it being consistently unsafe to use. “Me being apart of the community, identifying as nonbinary, it also felt personal, and so I wanted to make sure it was safe for all students.” When they first started at South, they asked about the bathroom, and ended up getting into contact with Swanson, which made things really take off. “Administration tends to really respond to student needs.” 

Because of students and social workers working together, change is finally happening in regards to the all gender bathroom. Hopefully, this will lead to further cooperation between the student body and administration that will lead to positive changes within the school.