Inequalities in school bathrooms

Finn Clark, Co-Feature Editor

27th October, 2022

Transgender students, as well as those who would benefit from menstrual products stocked in bathrooms, face many inequalities on the campus revolving around gender and specific student needs in bathrooms.

The administration so far this year has failed to provide menstrual products and gender neutral bathrooms, though changes are on the horizon. Johanna Mauro, the advisor of the AHS Sexuality and Gender Acceptance club, assured that renovations are underway.

In the short term, Mauro confirmed that the bathroom situated in the 500 wing will be changed into a gender neutral bathroom with proper signage.

“I feel positive we are moving in the right direction,” she said. Though some students feel the renovations may be arriving too late.

Many students said they will continue to suffer this year until bathrooms are renovated to become gender neutral. Mauro believes that the lack of gender neutral bathrooms affects everyone on the campus, “Nobody’s happy, it’s hard for everyone.”

Though we have the short term bathroom fix to look forward to, an even larger change is coming with the renovation of the bathroom in the 400 wing into a multi-stalled gender neutral bathroom.

Some believe that the bathrooms at Six Rivers Charter School and inside the Fine Arts Building are enough for those who seek gender neutral bathrooms even though they remain locked during school hours.

In the Six Rivers bathroom, students must give up their phones to gain access to these bathrooms. Cisgender male and female students gain full access to bathrooms easily while those who want to gender neutral bathrooms have to interrupt other students learning to get a key to use the gender neutral bathrooms.

“I think if you’re going to take somebody’s phone away, you have to apply it to all the students, and it shouldn’t be biased. I think that’s, plainly speaking, not professional. It’s not fair to the students, and it’s uncomfortable,” an AHS senior said.

Though many students believe the gender neutral bathrooms we have on campus are enough, many disagree with this opinion.

”There are technically gender neutral bathrooms, but then they lock them. So the kids can’t use them, which is like, why have bathrooms that you can’t use in the first place just don’t have those bathrooms,“ said sophomore Evangelina Reed.

An AHS student mentioned, ”There’s definitely a paranoia around the bathrooms for me personally, because I don’t really have a choice per se of where I want to be. And I’ve essentially trained myself not to use the restrooms on campus. I go when I get home, which kind of sucks.”

Even for students who don’t need gender neutral bathrooms, the bathroom situation on campus is still inhospitable for them.

“Well that would give us six (gender neutral bathrooms) on campus. That is more than what we got for boys and girls, so I think that that is going in the right direction,” Custodian Jim Hogan said.

Hogan said he spends “around thirty percent” of his time just cleaning out the bathrooms.
Some attribute the bathroom dirtiness to lack of resources for students to report incidents. Due to the treatment of bathrooms on campus, many students do not have access to the resources they need.

The Menstrual Equity Act was passed in 2021 to bring students as well as other members of California out of “period poverty”, a lack of menstrual products as a result of various life circumstances. This act requires schools to keep menstrual products in their bathrooms. Yet AHS does not have menstrual products in any of their bathrooms.

”I think that is frustrating. Because like, you have to fully rely on yourself to get them,” Reed said.

There have been several attempts to place hygiene products in bathrooms throughout the campus though none of them have been effective.

”They’ve stopped putting them in there because of kids grabbing them. And you know, and throwing them and stuffing them into the toilet and overflowing it,” Bagnall said.
Through the misuse of menstrual products by various groups many students on campus have to suffer.

”It makes life a lot harder because I can’t just leave the classroom and go to the bathroom. You have to like sneakily grab your tampon or your pad and then go to the bathroom. Sometimes teachers say no, but you can’t just say you’re on your period, because then the whole class will laugh at you. Just having them in the bathroom would make it a lot simpler,” Reed explained.

Mauro claims that vape detectors are on track to be installed inside of bathrooms and cameras will be added to the outside.

“It’s part of our R.I.S.E, really respecting our space and keeping safe and respectful and so on,” she said.

“People have to be accountable for their own actions, I mean, show some pride,” Hogan said. While the bathroom situation on campus may seem undesirable right now, many are working to improve it.

Bathrooms being unavailable affects everyone, it makes it so many students, transgender, cisgender, or anywhere in between are scared to use the bathrooms. There is still much to be done on campus though we can look forward to upcoming changes.