By Claire DuMont
Next school year, Mira Costa students will have the opportunity to utilize two new gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. These bathrooms will promote a comfortable and inclusive environment on campus and will increase convenience for the student body.
The bathrooms were initially discussed in a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender talk in February hosted by South Bay Families Connected, guidance counselor Jennifer Wildenberg said. Members of Costa’s Gender Sexuality Alliance Club voiced their views on the need for the bathrooms. The bathrooms will be located in the history building on the north side of campus and will be labeled “Staff/Unisex.” The gender-neutral bathrooms will continue to be staff bathrooms, but now can be gender-neutral, and may also be used by students on campus.
The purpose of the unisex bathrooms is to ensure that all students feel safe and supported and are given the freedom and the right to self-identify, Wildenberg said. As a result, the bathrooms are a positive and necessary improvement to Costa as they will promote an environment of wellness and support on campus, while increasing the feeling of safety among students.
There is currently only one set of gender-neutral bathrooms, and it is located in the administration building on the southwest corner of campus, Wildenberg said. This presents challenges to those who prefer to use unisex bathrooms during class or passing periods, as a lot of time is required to walk to the other side of campus, she said. Thus, the creation of another set of gender-neutral bathrooms on the opposite side of school will greatly increase the accessibility of the restrooms as well as reduce any stress that students will face when they have to walk a long distance across campus.
A Newsweek survey among the transgender population found that out of 2,316 respondents, 25% reports being denied access to restrooms. Of these respondents, 60.5% reports having attempted suicide, according to Newsweek. The association between the denial of access, depression and suicide suggests that the gender-neutral restrooms will help ensure that students at Costa feel safe and supported. The restrooms have the opportunity to benefit students on campus and allow them to feel represented, as well as to decrease stress.
The gender-neutral bathrooms will take the place of existing staff restrooms on the north side of campus, which will soon be labeled as “Staff/Unisex,” Wildenberg said. Since the bathrooms are already built, there will be a seamless transition for their implementation because they are already existing on campus.
The addition of more gender-neutral bathrooms that will be available on campus next year will promote a supportive, comprehensive environment at Costa, as well as reduce stress that some students face when they have to walk across campus in order to use gender-neutral restrooms. Additionally, the bathrooms will increase the feeling of inclusion felt on campus, ultimately benefitting Costa as a whole.