by Brian Thomas
The Federalist Papers Project
A high school in Alberta, Canada recently designated two bathrooms “gender neutral,” and students are speaking out about the problems that have resulted.
In a world of “safe spaces,” Sturgeon Composite made the changes hoping to make the high school more inclusive, but students there aren’t buying it.
They say the bathrooms hurt their privacy and even make them late for classes.
The school now has just one set of bathrooms designated for boys and girls, and even there, two stalls are designated “gender neutral.”
The switch obviously doesn’t reflect the student population, and students are seeing longer lines along with huge concerns for their privacy.
Many thought it was a bad idea from the beginning. According to one student, the fact that students could not only use the gender neutral bathrooms but actually “go into the other gender’s bathroom” was just “bizarre.” They’re obviously uncomfortable with the changes, but their concerns have been largely ignored by the school.
Many students say the bathrooms do anything but make them feel safe.
Global News reports:
At the start of September, students learned about the change.
“The first day of school, when we all walked in and saw the bathrooms were gender neutral and everybody could go into the other gender’s bathroom, it was bizarre,” grade 11 student Graeme Gibson said.
“First, it was a shock, then everybody was like, ‘Why is this happening? What the heck is going on?’
Students who want to use their gender’s bathroom now have to walk greater distances to wait in line because their options are now more limited.
Furthermore, the fact that there are gender neutral stalls within the remaining gendered bathrooms make students feel that they’re at risk, and anyone who wants to take advantage of the policy to intrude on privacy now has an excuse to do so.
To make matters worse, the gender neutral bathrooms have no doors for entry, and the stalls are open.
Objecting to the changes, a petition is currently circulating among the students.
Global News continues:
“The number of gender-neutral washrooms is very high,” said grade 11 student Evan Gabbey.
“They sent two whole sets as well as two individual stalls to gender neutral and there’s one set for male and female and that does not at all represent the population of people who require the gender-neutral bathrooms.”
Some students say they feel awkward sharing the new facilities.
“The first time I saw them I was nervous and I was like, “Okay I’m just going to not use the washroom today,” grade 11 student Austin Kirk said.
He goes out of his way to avoid sharing the gender-neutral washrooms.
“I have a chemistry class on one side of the school next to the gender-neutral washroom but there’s a washroom in the lobby that is just a boys washroom and I walk there every time I need to use the washroom.”
A few students told Global News they’re often late for class because lineups can form in the three stall girls or boys bathrooms.
Another issue that was raised is privacy.
“I find it uncomfortable. I have other things to do than boys, in there,” student Jacey Taylor said, referring to the changing of feminine hygiene products. “You can hear it.”
The gender-neutral bathrooms have no doors and are therefore open to the hallways. They also have multiple stalls, some with toilets and others with urinals. Those stalls are not completely enclosed.
That didn’t sit well with Gabbey. He decided to start a petition, asking for more gender-specific bathrooms. On the first day, he was overwhelmed by students looking to sign.
The petition was well received, and on the first day, Gabbey alone found 112 students willing to sign.
The students are fighting the implementation of the gender neutral bathrooms now, and concerned parents have joined in. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to their concerns. It reads:
The school has just under 700 students. These students are trying to access 3 male/3 female washrooms located at the far end of the school by the offices. The result is long lines, discomfort waiting and being late for class.
A petition was launched by the students in protest, requesting more male/female designated facilities. The petition received 325 student signatures in one week. The petition was submitted and a presentation made to Sturgeon School Division trustees on November 8th to protest the current policy.
Parents were not informed about the policy changes. A parent group has been started to support the students in their attempt to overturn this new policy. Parents are encouraged to voice their opinion. We want all parents to be informed and welcome all feedback.
If the school district really cares about its students, shouldn’t they be listening to them?