Students should be free to pee

Erika Miessner, News Editor

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For most GCHS students, grades, relationships and responsibilities make up the majority of school-related stressors. But for students who are not cisgender (identifying with their biological gender), great anxiety can come from a source that, to the rest of us, seems relatively stress-free: a bathroom.
Transgender students need to worry about harassment or abuse from using the “wrong” bathroom. Gender nonconforming or non-binary students struggle with having to pick between two genders, neither of which fit.
With a number of transgender and gender nonconforming/ non-binary students, a gender-neutral bathroom is immensely necessary. While a compromise currently exists, there is still need for a single-stall hallway bathroom. Unfortunately, though, it seems it will not become a reality at the school anytime soon.
For individuals like transgender sophomore Casper Badovinac, it can be very hard to be forced into one bathroom or the other. He reports having been harassed in a public bathroom (outside of GCHS) because someone felt he was in the “wrong” bathroom.
“It was a very traumatic experience that has [deterred me from] going into the bathroom that I feel I belong in,” said Badovinac.
While he has not been harassed at school, he still feels uncomfortable using the public bathrooms.
“I normally don’t go to the bathroom because it makes me highly uncomfortable when I do,” said Badovinac.
Gender nonconforming senior Riley Sorensen has less difficulty, but still can get “weird stares” if she goes into the male bathroom.
“If people ever start to look at me weirdly, I make really uncomfortable eye contact with them,” said Sorensen.
Although there is not a gender-neutral bathroom in the halls of GCHS, transgender and non-binary students have some options.
“We use the nurse’s office, and then we also allow those students to use our bathrooms up here,” principal Dan Landry said. “Students have come to us that are identifying either as transgender or [gender nonconforming], and so we have a conversation with the student’s family and we give them options, including not being required to change in the current gender locker room and letting them know where the bathrooms are that they can use. And if they go to the nurse’s office, it’s no questions asked.”
While this is far better than having nothing, a hallway bathroom would be ideal. Depending on the person, having a gender-neutral bathroom can make a significant difference.
“It would make me a lot more comfortable at the school and make me feel a lot more accepted, and also I could pee when I want to, so that would be pretty nice,” said Badovinac.
“For me, personally, it would be kind of the same, but I could see how it could be a big deal for other people,” said Sorensen.
Ideally, a new gender-neutral bathroom would be a single-stall so as to avoid anyone taking advantage of the situation.
“I think that it’s really important to get gender-neutral bathrooms, but also unfortunately, in this day and age I could see people wanting to take advantage of that, and that’s really unfortunate, because you’re supposed to feel safe when in the bathroom,” said Sorensen.
Without a single-stall bathroom already in place, one would need to be built. In a building as old as GCHS, this raises logistical problems.
“You can’t build a new bathroom. Where are you going to put it?” Landry said. “The bones in this building are pretty old, so it’s going to be pretty hard to find a place to put a new bathroom.”
According to general contractor Chip Edwards of Warren Edwards Builders, Inc., however, such a project could be feasible if it were built near an already existing bathroom, perhaps in a space currently occupied by a storage or supply closet.
“You would want to be close to [an] existing supply and drain lines to tie into,” Edwards said.
Such an undertaking would cost approximately $60,000, according to Edwards, given that it is built near existing pipes. Given that the district’s 2014-2015 tentative budget allots $2,686,818 for purchased services (building construction or capital improvements) for the 2016-2017 school year, the cost of building a gender-neutral bathroom seems like a relatively small price to pay.
While establishing a new bathroom at the school is not a cheap or easy task, accepting the dignity of all students seems well worth it.

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Students should be free to pee