Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-09-04
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Advocating for gender-neutral restrooms in schools
by Avery Patterson
2019-03-03

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


"Which bathroom should I use?" is a question that many of us don't have to ask ourselves on a daily basis.

But for gender-diverse and trans youth, this decision is one they have to face every time they simply need to use the restroom. In addition, the trans and gender-diverse youth are at risk for discrimination and judgement in whichever bathroom they choose. The binary "pink and blue" bathrooms don't allow everyone to use the bathroom in peace. If gender-neutral bathrooms were included in all schools, students who are gender-diverse would feel less stressed about choosing a bathroom and and their fears of safety would fade.

The main rationalization for this claim is that gender-neutral bathrooms would reduce fears of safety for gender-diverse students. Although worried parents and teachers believe that gender-neutral bathrooms would increase crime rates and sexual harassment risks, research refutes this claim. Researchers at the William Institute found that there is no apparent crime increase between states that have gender-neutral bathrooms and ones that do not, meaning that gender-neutral bathrooms wouldn't be a problem of safety. On the contrary, they would actually be a huge benefit in resolving worries of safety for gender-diverse youth.

Jacob Tobia—an LGBTQ+ activist/writer who is gender-nonconforming—has said, "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's quote is disappointing to think about, but describes reality for gender-diverse people. Although he is an adult, his experiences and those of many others have carried through from childhood years up through adulthood. While this issue of safety isn't something many of us normally experience or witness, it is common for gender-diverse, especially trans people to experience danger and harassment in binary restrooms. One of the main concerns when creating bathrooms is keeping them safe, and gender-diverse youth should not be exempted from this standard. This is exactly why we need an alternative choice.

Additionally, a survey by NCTE ( reported by Daniel Trotta in 2016 ) further illustrates danger for trans youth in bathrooms. Few cisgender youth avoid school bathrooms beyond being forced to by janitorial cleanings. However, transgender and gender-diverse students avoid bathrooms daily. They are forced to worry about taunting and embarrassment, even over something so small, like which bathroom a person enters. This can, and usually will, cause transgender youth to "hold it" instead of having to choose a bathroom. The survey by NCTE found that 32 percent of transgender people limit the amount of food or drink they intake so that they don't have to use a restroom. Eight percent reported having a kidney or urinary-tract infection because they avoided bathrooms for so long.

This reinforces how badly traditional restrooms are affecting the physical health of gender-diverse youth. It's important that all youth feel safe in bathrooms, and just as important that they are safe and healthy. Students who are transgender deserve to use the bathroom safely, and they should not have to deal with health issues. Restrooms are meant to be safe spaces, and a student's right to use it as just that should not be revised in conditions regarding gender.

Another significant factor in this debate is how gender-neutral bathrooms would make gender-diverse youth feel more comfortable choosing a bathroom. Students generally need to use the restroom once a day. But for gender-diverse youth, this experience causes anxiety. In 2016, Sonali Kohli reported on Alonzo Hernandez, a transgender teen who had to choose between the binary bathrooms for most of his life at school. "Being questioned about my gender ... when I go to use the restroom makes me feel uncomfortable," Hernandez said. "I just want to be able to, you know, use the restroom without being questioned."

This is significant because Hernandez's experiences perfectly illustrate what every day is like for gender-diverse students. They aren't able to use the restroom without looks being shot at them, and judgements made of them. That creates worries and anxiety associated with going to school, which leads students to dread it. If Hernandez felt this uncomfortable in the bathroom, there's a significant amount of kids in many schools who feel the same.

In fact, the Williams Institute published findings about transgender teens. According to the data, one in 137 teens identifies as transgender. Although not every transgender person has experienced the same discomfort in the bathroom as Hernandez, they've most likely had experiences that make them feel uncomfortable about gender. Hearing about kids having thoughts and feelings like Hernandez's should be a wake-up call for school boards. Schools need to implement gender-neutral bathrooms.

Although schools may think they are doing the right thing by excluding gender-neutral bathrooms, they are not. School boards should not selectively filter out trans and gender-diverse students, purely because they don't fit into "boy" or "girl." Gender-neutral bathrooms would reduce the anxiety around making a choice and would make restrooms safer for transgender youth. As students, it's up to us to change the bathroom system. You can help by talking to your school administrations. Schools need to include bathrooms that have room for everyone, regardless of gender.

Avery Patterson is a seventh grader at Northbrook Junior High School in Northbrook. She recently wrote this piece as an argumentative essay for her language-arts class. This piece is being run with permission from Paterson's mother.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

District 211 considers transgender locker room proposal 2019-09-12 - The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board of education is considering allowing transgender students to use the locker rooms of the gender with ...


Gay News

Keisling speaks on staying optimistic in the age of Trump 2019-09-10 - While speaking at Center on Halsted the evening of Sept. 9, activist Mara Keisling said that, though the trans community has been beset ...


Gay News

Study says bias experiences affect suicides in trans adults 2019-09-10 - New analysis of data from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) found that more than half (51.2 percent) of respondents who had experienced ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Gay police captain, more trans deaths, Chasten Buttigieg 2019-09-10 - In New Jersey, Newark's police department swore in its first openly gay captain and promoted 43 other officers at a ceremony, Patch.com reported. ...


Gay News

WORLD Kazakhstan first, HIV news, intersex items, Chick-fil-A 2019-09-10 - A controversial case that took a year and a half for Kazakhstan's court system to hear has turned out to be the first ...


Gay News

National Black Justice Coalition calls for action on murders of transgender teens 2019-09-06 - WASHINGTON— Bailey Reeves, at 17-years-young, and Bee Love, at only 18, became the 17th and 18th trans people murdered in the United States ...


Gay News

VIEWS A straight man's foray into an LGBTQ world 2019-09-04 - My first assignment for Windy City Times looked something like this: I hopped in my car and drove from my white, middle-class, cookie-cutter ...


Gay News

Remembering Michael Bauer, a call to pick up the baton 2019-09-03 - Remarks as prepared for delivery at the memorial service for community leader Mike Bauer, Sept. 3, 2019. I'm here to speak for ...


Gay News

Trans athlete to headline ISU dinner Sept. 20 2019-09-03 - Swimmer Schuyler Bailar will be the speaker for Illinois State University's ( ISU's ) Housing Services LGBTQA Cultural Dinner at 5 p.m. on ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Suicidal partner, Cory Booker, serial killer, trans group's crisis 2019-08-27 - In Philadelphia, a 20-year-old Black man took his life after being the target of relentless bullying because of his relationship with a trans ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.