Violet, a high school junior at Escuela Verde who asked that her full name not be used, is a community activist and feminist. Violet argues that all-gender restrooms create a better learning environment for all students.
Transgender bathroom rights are a current topic of debate in the research world. Recently, Donald Trump rescinded protection for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. Discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community is an issue that transcends the community and affects us all.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes the rights of every person regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, property, socioeconomic, or political viewpoint. The foundation of international human rights includes 30 articles authorizing, privacy, health and equality before the law as well as freedom of expression.
The LGBTQ+ community is constantly at risk of gross violations of their fundamental human rights. There is no doubt that many LGBTQ+ individuals fear abuse and murder, solely because they live in a society that does not accept their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“The U.S. Constitution, Title IX, and many state and local laws ban discrimination based on gender identity. Students have the right to express themselves in any way they can — including the choice of their clothes,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Escuela Verde has taken a stand on LGBTQ+ rights. Our Gay-Straight Alliance helped implement the first LGBTQ+ Protection policy into our handbook. We believe that by advocating for the safety of LGBTQ+ students, we are cultivating a community that is participatory, just, sustainable and peaceful. Our All-Gender Restrooms have created a better learning environment for all students. We believe that by embracing our gender identities, we are empowering each other to create a strong sense of place. If we truly seek to #ProtectTransKids, this is the type of action that must be implemented in all schools. By providing trans protection policies, we are providing a safe, positive, productive and nurturing education environment for all students across the state.
For instance, Ronald Reagan student Rose struggles to decide which bathroom to use in her school. “When you’re gender nonconforming, it’s hard to know which bathroom is safe to use.” Deciding whether to use the men’s or women’s restroom “depends on my clothing choice and mood,” said Rose. “You never know how I might come to school. My wardrobe is incredibly wide-ranging from velvet suits to silky flowing dresses.”
Rufus King student Matthew said, “Using the restroom is a combination of assessing my safety and being aware of all the other people in the room. As a gender non-conforming individual and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I find that I’m constantly stuck between a stall and a urinal. Wearing lipstick suggests that I should use the women’s restroom, but my wide shoulders suggest otherwise. In general, I hate using the restroom because I’m too masculine — or an androgynous-looking person.”
According to Escuela Verde student Erica, “Implementing a trans-inclusive policy to allow trans students to use the restroom that ‘feels most comfortable to them’ assumes that a comfortable option exists.” Most young LGBTQ+ individuals are still trying to understand their gender identity, therefore, all schools should implement gender neutral bathrooms.
The benefits of gender-neutral restrooms are deeper than simply providing safety for transgender people. Every day, gender nonconforming individuals have to face gender discrimination. “If I choose the women’s restroom, I risk panicking women; if I choose the men’s restroom, I risk facing transphobic men,” said Matthew.
The legal standing of LGBTQ+ individuals has been overruled by the recent presidential election. During the course of the past few years, we’ve seen impressive strides that, in the words of one attorney, “would have seemed impossible just ten years ago.”
According to Harvard’s Career Guide, 20 states and hundreds of cities and counties include sexual orientation as a protected category in their anti-discrimination laws. However, LGBTQ+ individuals are still considered second-class citizens who are not protected by the federal government against discrimination.
We must uphold our human rights, and fight for equality.