By Emily Kim,
On April 8, the White House introduced its first gender-neutral bathroom. Additionally, Jan. introduced a new law passed in West Hollywood, requiring single stall restrooms in businesses and all public spaces.
The San Diego International Airport introduced 12 new gender-neutral facilities in March. After years of males and females remaining separated, the first 5 months of the year have brought upon many changes throughout the state and it is beginning to progress, as DHS is expecting a new gender-neutral bathroom in fall of 2015. The new single stalled bathroom will replace the teacher exclusive restroom located in the science building.
The gender-neutral bathroom is being created in response to the Assembly Bill 1266, passed in Aug. 2013 and enacted as a law in Jan. of 2014. The AB states that “this bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
According to an online source provided by the UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center, gender and sex are two separate ideas. Sex refers to the physical attributes of one’s body, whereas gender is a societal idea of how a person with a certain sex should dress and behave.
In the past, transgender students at DHS have been required to request permission from the school in order to use facilities of the gender in which they identify with. Another option was to go to the nurse’s bathroom, which is located in the front office and is not easily or quickly accessible during the short six minute passing periods.
AB 1127 states that people being allowed to request the use of a bathroom other than the gender assigned on school records does not truly provide equal access and equal opportunity to all students.
Kelly Evans, senior and president of Gay Straight Alliance, has been a major role in the initiation of the gender-neutral bathrooms. Evans said that having new facilities was one of the GSA’s campaign goals for the 2015-2016 school year and Evans attends meetings with the administration in order to work out the specifics.
“The bathrooms would grandly improve the lives of more than 575 students, considering we have no idea how many closeted transgender people there are and most statistics don’t take into account gender non-conformists,” Evans said.
In addition to the new gender-neutral restrooms, Evans and Principal William Brown are working to organize an informational session for teachers about the difference between gender and sex, to teach why and how to be open and accepting and how to be aware of pronouns.
“As a part of the bathrooms, we’re really working on moving towards a campus where gender identities in general are more accepted. Teacher training is the first step,” Evans said.
Principal Brown said that he expects that having this bathroom will allow students to feel more comfortable, and also provide a learning opportunity for the Davis community.
“There was interest from our students to have a comfortable place for students. This is a great community where people care about one another [and] I am expecting us to become a more accepting and warm school community. There will be many chances for us to learn and grow, this is just one of them.” Brown said.
“I believe it will make people more comfortable […] and [the bathroom] may even be starting place for conversations that result in educating our greater community,” Brown said.