In addition to the right of students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, I feel like every school should have single-stall bathrooms that are accessible to any student, no questions asked. I feel very strongly that this would be a solution to the needs of so many students, and having it be no-questions-asked and having a variety of students use it means that no one has to “out” themselves in any way. Off the top of my head, this could be life-changing for:
- Students who are nonbinary, for whom a “boys” and “girls” room is beside the point.
- Students who are trans, but frightened of taking the step of using the “wrong” bathroom, either because they are not ready to come out, they’re afraid of bullying, or they are afraid their parents will find out.
- Students with illnesses like IBS or crohn’s disease for whom privacy in the bathroom would make their lives a lot easier.
- Students with histories of trauma, who are not comfortable in bathrooms with other people.
- Students who routinely get bullied in the bathroom.
- Girls who cannot use tampons for whatever reason (religious, physical, whatever) and get bullied about that. This is more common than you think.
- Students whose religious views make them uncomfortable using bathrooms with trans students. Yes, that comes from a place of bigotry. But those students also have a right to use the bathroom and feel safe, it just doesn’t get to infringe on the rights of trans students. Even consider the Muslim girl with the best of intentions, who believes in trans rights but is also unsure whether her religion recognizes that transition or not, i.e. whether she can use the bathroom with transwomen. This was a really common conflict for first-year Muslim students at my women’s college. Eventually most of them decided they didn’t give a fuck, but until they worked it out having a place to pee without having to have a whole religious crisis over it was important.
Given all the trouble that happens to students in bathrooms, I really feel like this would go a long way to keeping students safe. And yes, I’m sure some students will abuse it. I’m sure some will try to have sex in there, or smoke pot, or whatever. But guess what? If that happens, they get caught and get in trouble. And what’s the damage? Two kids fooled around. A kid got high. But the thing about bullying (which is mostly what I feel this would help prevent) is that by the time an adult finds out, the damage is done, and will continue to cause pain.