Bathrooms for all: equal access for every student

Featured+above+is+art+by+Lane+Phifer.+The+student%2C+in+the+photo%2C+stands+choosing+between+which+bathroom+to+use.+
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Bathrooms for all: equal access for every student

Featured above is art by Lane Phifer. The student, in the photo, stands choosing between which bathroom to use.

Featured above is art by Lane Phifer. The student, in the photo, stands choosing between which bathroom to use.

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Featured above is art by Lane Phifer. The student, in the photo, stands choosing between which bathroom to use.

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Featured above is art by Lane Phifer. The student, in the photo, stands choosing between which bathroom to use.

By Lane Phifer, Pittsburg High School

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Like many transgender people, determinating which public restroom to use is a battle I face every day. I question my safety and how others will perceive me depending on which restroom I choose, not to mention the state laws.

In 2016, the Trump administration created the “Bathroom Bill,” which restricts transgender citizens from using the restroom that applies to their gender identity. Although 18 out of the 50 states go against this bill, Kansas isn’t one of them.

An article by KWCH News reported how Winfield High School added two single-stall all-gender restrooms to increase inclusiveness.

As a transgender student, seeing other schools have these restrooms available caused me to wonder why my school doesn’t. I analyzed the PHS handbook, which doesn’t have a restroom or overnight policy for LGBTQ+ youth.

In the three years, I have attended PHS, I’ve always used the nurse’s restroom in order to avoid awkward conversations or interactions with my peers. However, this restroom isn’t the one I believe transgender students like myself should have to use. Instead, I ask that we install an all-gender restroom in the building as a way to ensure the safety of queer students.

According to Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez’s CNN news article, “transgender teens in schools with bathroom restrictions are at higher risk of sexual assault.” In a recent web-based study conducted by CNN researchers that involved over 3,000 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 in the LGBT community, 25.9% of students reported being a victim of sexual assault in the last 12 month and that increased to 36% for students who were affected by restroom or locker room restrictions.

Restricting restroom access to transgender students harms them in more ways than one. One way, in particular, is that some will not use restrooms altogether for the duration of the day.

However, this could be avoided at PHS by having safe restroom access for everyone. Having single-stall restrooms will benefit more than just trans teens by providing all students a more private restroom.

Having single-stall restrooms will benefit more than just trans teens by providing all students a more private restroom.”

— Lane Phifer

Another solution is allowing transgender students to use their preferred restroom. By doing this, cis-gendered students are given a chance to normalize trans people using the restroom alongside them. It also encourages our queer students to be comfortable because they wouldn’t have to deal with the constant battle of deciding which restroom to go in at school.

As a member of the LGBT+ community, I take pride in advocating for my community and standing up for what I believe in—one of which is equal bathroom privileges.

Every student should receive equal privileges, treatment, and opportunities, just like how every student should also have a secure environment to use the restroom without the fear of being verbally, physically or sexually attacked. There have been many transgender students before me at PHS. However, no matter the number of trans individuals who walk through these halls not once has there been a change in our restroom and overnight policy. I hope that this article will bring us one step closer to transgender students feeling safe and included at PHS.

This story was originally published on The Booster Redux on November 14, 2019.