By Olivia Van Arsdale, ’17
District begins construction for gender-neutral bathroom at Upper Arlington High School
According to UAHS Principal Andrew Theado, this bathroom will be able to be used by anyone.
“We’re making a restroom that everyone can use,” Theado said. “When we have events, it can be open to families that have kids, or students that are transgender might want to use this rather than another restroom, so it’ll be more convenient for people for various reasons.”
While construction has only recently begun, the administration has floated the idea since the beginning of this school year.
“It’s been [talked about] since early in the fall,” Theado said. “We really have seen the need to have a unisex bathroom for various reasons.”
Unisex bathrooms may begin to be a trend in other places as well. In South Dakota, the so-called “bathroom bill” was recently vetoed by the governor – if signed into law, this bill would have required citizens to use only bathrooms that corresponded to their sex at birth.
While similar bills have been hotly debated in other states because of the negative effect it would have on the lives of transgender people, it would also hurt instersex people, or parents with young children of the opposite sex. If the “bathroom bill” passes in any state, unisex bathrooms may become a necessary part of public establishments, due to the biological reality that gender isn’t a binary – an estimated 1.7 percent of the United States population are intersex, making it just as common as having red hair.
In Kentucky, a similar “bathroom bill” failed to pass the Senate floor after hearing the testimony of transgender high school student Henry Brousseau. He said that he was still required by administration to use the women’s restroom at his school, and was harrassed by other students for it.
“The kids thought that since the administration didn’t support my gender identity, they didn’t have to either, and they could get away with bullying me,” Brousseau said.
At UAHS, the administration may be taking steps forward to end that widespread culture of marginalization.
“We are accepting of everybody, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and we need to accommodate for all those different things,” Theado said. “People are never going to always see eye-to-eye on different things. We are doing this for many reasons, one of which is for students who are transgender. I think that all people, from all walks of life, should feel accepted in their school and in their community.”