Starting in preschool, students learn about separate bathrooms: girls go into the bathroom with the white stick figure wearing a skirt, and boys go into the bathroom with the white stick figure sporting pants. The identification seems so clear, but today, where do students who do not conform to the pre-conceived ideas of male and female go to the bathroom and feel comfortable and safe?
Moti Fox-Libet, an openly gay junior, was faced with that question Sept. 27. Fox-Libet, along with junior Shanae Maragh, entered a DHS women’s bathroom between sixth and seventh period to apply mascara. According to Fox-Libet, a female staff member saw Fox-Libet in the bathroom and told him to leave. He explained to the teacher that he is gay, but according
to Fox-Libet, the teacher said “it did not matter” and that he still had to leave.
Fox-Libet does not feel comfortable using the men’s restroom for applying makeup or going to the bathroom; he describes using the men’s room as “an awkard situation” he’d rather avoid because of his sexual orientation.
“Sometimes the stalls aren’t available as opposed to the urinals, and I’m not going to wait for the stall if I have to go to the bathroom, and I can’t use the girls’, so I have to hold it and run to another bathroom,” he said.
No matter his or her sexual orientation, no student should ever have to “hold it” to conform to the rules of his or her school.
The teacher who told Fox-Libet to leave the women’s bathroom does not know that it does matter that Fox-Libet feels uncomfortable in the men’s bathroom, and because of this, the school needs to accommodate him so he has a comfortable place to use the bathroom.
Fox-Libet was later pulled out of his fourth period on Sept. 30 to speak with an administrator regarding the bathroom incident. According to Fox-Libet, the administrator told him that although he is gay, he is still male, so he cannot go into the female bathroom.
The administrator, like the teacher, made the error of not understanding that Fox-Libet’s gender indentity does have an impact on this matter, and that the administration needs to provide a solutionto Fox-Libet’s discomfort in the men’s restroom.
“Sometimes when I say to people I’m gay, they understand, but when it comes to things like [the bathroom situation], I’m not gay, I’m a male,” Fox-Libet said.
No student should have to ever prove to school administrators why they deserve to feel safe at school. A school is a place that should create a secure environment for all its students, and until all students feel safe using the bathrooms DHS has offered to them, DHS has not fufilled its role of making sure every student feels protected.
Maragh feels that DHS is generally
accepting of people’s differences
but if the school were to neglect actions that would provide for the safety of one student, “we could end up losing these students and they would grow up without a positive view of school. We should make them feel comfortable, and if push comes to shove, we should make a bathroom for them,” she said.
Gay-Straight Alliance Network Communication Coordinator Jill Marcellus feels that creating “gender-
neutral bathrooms is an important
step toward providing a safe learning environment,” she said.
“No student should feel unsafe in school simply because of the way in which he or she expresses his or her gender, and the school has a responsibility to ensure both that student’s rights to express him or herself and his or her safety,” Marcellus said.
Local universities such as UC Berkeley, UC Davis and Stanford have co-ed bathrooms available to students, according to their websites,
so why does DHS not have a student bathroom that is co-ed? A private co-ed bathroom at DHS would provide a safe restroom for gender-nonconforming students and also prevent any students from feeling uncomfortable by having a student of the opposite gender in his or her bathroom.
“I want [DHS] and kids, students and teachers to realize that there are gray areas in a lot of areas in our society
now that people are uncomfortable
to talk about or afraid to understand,” Fox-Libet said.
In a time where the safety of gender nonconforming students has not been established across schools nationwide, DHS should address this issue and provide for the security of all fellow students, regardless of their gender identity. Although Fox-Libet’s case is the first to be presented so far at DHS, more students may feel the same as Fox-Libet, and it is the school’s responsibility to make sure they are accomodated and feel safe on campus.