Gender Neutral Bathrooms at Shorecrest

1.2 million Americans identify as non-binary. Not just that, but gender norms have been shifting around the world. Increasingly, people are coming out as non-binary or transgender. During quarantine especially, with more time to spend alone, many figured out their own identities and what they mean for their lives going forward. There is all this change, all this shifting, and it’s new and exciting to some. Nonetheless, Shorecrest, a school that prides itself on inclusivity and has recently constructed a new building, has yet to find time or room for more than one gender-neutral bathroom that isn’t also used by staff. 

The ONLY gender-neutral bathroom in Shorecrest, which is also shared by school staff, is on the second floor at the end of the hallway near the green stairs. Now let’s say that a non-binary person needed to use the bathroom during a class such as Orchestra. They would have to either wait for someone to open the door at the courtyard or walk all the way to the front of the school, then go up the main stairs or the short stairs to then walk down a long stretch of hallway to finally reach the bathroom. Then, after finally reaching their destination and using the facilities, they would have to go down the stairs, enter the courtyard, walk all the way to the front of the theater, then down back to their class. Give or take, this journey would take about 15 minutes, far longer than the 5 minutes the school has recommended for their hallway policy. This could easily be fixed by having at least one gender-neutral bathroom on each floor as well as one in the theater department and gym.

Another argument for more gender-neutral bathrooms at Shorecrest is gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is defined as clinically significant stress caused by discontent with the gender that the person was assigned at birth. It is a highly researched and proven topic, so much so that there is an entire specialized career to study and help people with it, called gender therapy. They help diagnose people with gender dysphoria, manage their case, help them get hormone replacement therapy (HRT), as well as help people who are struggling with it. Many non-binary and trans people say that going to the bathroom of their assigned gender at birth and being reminded of it is a source of dysphoria. In the book Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve, the main character states, “I look at the bathroom doors again, the signs on the front like eyes watching me. The women’s restroom is the easy choice. If easy means familiar. If easy means forgetting myself on purpose to make other people comfortable. It’s only a few minutes.” (Stoeve 118). This book is written by a trans man and the main character is a trans man as well. A fellow Shorecrest student, Rae Johnston, said, “Even just having to go in the bathroom I was assigned at birth is a painful experience.” Thus, to help with students’ gender dysphoria, Shorecrest should offer more gender-neutral bathrooms and advertise the one we do have more so that more people are aware.

Now one might ask, “Well, why don’t they go to the bathroom they’re transitioning to?” Well, that would leave out non-binary people who wish to truly be out of the gender binary and also many intersex individuals. Then one might add, “Well, binary trans women and men can use the bathroom then.” Sadly, this can be a very anxiety-ridden situation. Many trans people have reported being harassed in bathrooms. A 2019 statistic from a Harvard study reported that 36% of trans youth with restricted bathroom or locker room access are sexually assaulted in bathrooms and locker rooms. Another study in 2016 showed that 60% of transgender Americans avoid public bathrooms because of fear of confrontation and that they have been harassed or assaulted. Whether this has happened at Shorecrest is not what matters; what matters is that it happens. If Shorecrest really wants to be the “safe place” it claims to be, then more bathrooms should be given that can actually make people feel safe.

There are multiple factors in the need for more gender-neutral bathrooms, including the time it takes to get to the only gender-neutral bathroom, gender dysphoria, and the safety of the student body. A simple solution would be to make at least one staff bathroom on each floor accessible to students who acquire the pass. Maybe in the future, if Shorecrest builds a new building, all bathrooms would be gender-neutral. But for now, all we have is the one lowly staff/gender-neutral bathroom. Times are changing, it’s time Shorecrest did too.

This editorial was submitted by a Shorecrest student who is not a Piper member. If you too would like to submit an article for publication, simply follow the “submit” link in the upper menu. We accept journalistic pieces, including writing and art, from all SC students, club members or not.