Do gender neutral bathrooms deserve more attention at Glenbard South?

Mikayla Jacoby, Writer for Lenses

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    Within the past few years, Glenbard South has extensively renovated its lower level with the idea of accessibility and modern facilities in mind.                             

    Renovations have included new bathrooms in the lower level. One of these bathrooms can be found halfway down the lower level hall between the woods room and the fitness room, and the other can be found outside the weight room in the athletic trainer’s hallway. Both bathrooms include a toilet and urinal so all may use the bathroom efficiently and comfortably.

    While what was put into these facilities is gender neutral and meant for the purpose of being inclusive to all students to use, what caught Glenbard South senior Molly Friedman’s attention were the signs hanging outside the bathrooms, which depicted a man, woman, and figure in a wheelchair. Friedman has been trying to bring attention to the idea of the installment of gender-inclusive bathroom signs in the two single-stall bathrooms in South’s lower level since early 2018.

    The signs Friedman would like to see be installed do not depict a man and a woman like the signs currently hanging in the halls, but instead depict the symbol for all genders, a circle with three branches: one the stem of the female symbol, one the stem of the male symbol and the last stem being that of the genderqueer symbol. The symbol would represent that the bathrooms are open not only to both students who identify as cisgender, but also inclusion for those who identify as transgender as well.

   When asked what inspired her call to change, stated that last year the idea struck her of how unfair the current signs were. While stating that during last year not much action occurred, she explained how the issue is becoming more relevant in the school board’s and public’s eye.

    On Monday, December 17, District 87 held a policy meeting in which the topic of gender-inclusive bathroom signs was discussed. A sentence was proposed and approved to be added to the Policy 7:10, which discusses Equal Education Opportunities. The sentence read “Students shall be treated and supported in a manner consistent with their gender identity”, and will be the final sentence of a paragraph under the Sex Equity heading. According to the Policy Committee Meeting Minutes from the recent meeting, which have been open for public viewing, the “question was raised on the district’s policy concerning transgender”, but “any changes would not go before the School Board until the January 28th, 2019 meeting”. During the January 28 meeting, the new addition to the policy was reviewed in a first reading and discussion.

    Hesitancy is shown toward switching the bathroom signs for a multitude of reasons. First of all, the current signs used in the unisex bathrooms around South are district- uniform, meaning if one school wishes to change its bathroom signs then all Glenbard schools must change their signs. No school is permitted to deviate from the district uniform, which is why the issue is being taken to board policy meetings. Other concerns raised are around the idea that the gender-inclusive bathrooms themselves have been far out of reach for students who would prefer to use them because they are in the lower level, not in more accessible locations or more evenly distributed throughout the building.

    While this issue is only recently beginning to gain steam, the Glenbard South assistant principal Jim Cuny has ensured the safety and comfort of all students. South has been a school that identifies itself as a place that has strived to make students feel included and welcome and has been willing to listen to those who have something to say to make the school environment a more accommodating place.