Gender neutral bathrooms can’t stay locked

When I first started at this school, I was extremely happy that there was a gender neutral bathroom. This eased my thought of having to go into a bathroom I was uncomfortable in. However, the first time I tried to use it, it was locked. I tried again a few days later and it was still locked. This has become a frequent occurrence, to the point where the gender neutral bathrooms are pointless. The school has made an effort with making a new gender neutral bathroom, however, their actions speak louder by making the bathroom inaccessible. It feels like there is a lack of respect and prioritization for gender nonconforming students are this school.

When I was in sixth grade I couldn’t change in the women’s locker room because of the bullying I would go through, although when I tried to go into the boys locker room I was harassed and scared of being physically hurt. For the rest of sixth and seventh grade I changed in the bathroom when everyone was still in class. Because of these experiences, going into both the women’s and men’s bathroom is a daily struggle. Allowing for there to be a regularly accessible gender neutral bathroom would make this school feel more welcoming.

As well as many other people in this school, I don’t identify as a woman or a man. My entire life I have dealt with harassment and neglect from other students, and not having a safe space to accommodate basic human needs is blasphemous. Throughout the year, I have felt like I was locked behind bathroom stall bars, trapped under the pressure of societal norms. This is especially difficult for students who aren’t comfortable asking for the key in fear of outing themselves.

From the district’s point of view, I understand how closing this bathroom would prevent students from smoking, doing drugs, and other unsolicited activities, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of LGBTQ+ students’ safety and comfort. There is nothing stopping students from doing the same exact things in the regular bathrooms, but those have never been closed other than to be cleaned because they are seen as a “necessity” whereas gender neutral bathrooms are seen as an option. When the principal or other staff members guard the door at lunch, it defeats the purpose of privacy and respect that should come with using this bathroom, just like any other.

The district needs to see the struggles that certain students are going through due to these decisions and take these matters seriously. Knowing that there is something that can be done at this school to make all students feel more safe that nobody is addressing is agitating. Although we have made progress as a school, I think it is important that we address this issue and find a fair solution to address the bathrooms in order to make people feel comfortable.