Unisex bathrooms coming to Leigh

Leigh High School has unisex bathrooms available for students. District superintendent Robert Bravo said, on Nov. 16, that the plan is for the schools in the district to change the sign on at least one existing bathroom to make it unisex.

The unisex restroom will have two to four stalls that lock,” said Bravo. The board plans to reach this goal by Jan. 1, 2017.

“We already have unisex bathrooms on campus, several of them,” said Kara Butler, principal. There is one in the Student Service Center, near the lunch line with the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, and Leigh is turning two of the existing bathrooms in the science workroom into unisex. Butler says that there is no intent to turn every bathroom into unisex; there will still be some separate bathrooms.

“I think it’s great that the school is accepting that boys and girls can use the same restroom and not have it be awkward between them,” said Calvin Andriese, junior.

Around the country, gender-neutral bathrooms are being considered and even required by law in some cases. On Sept. 29, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring all single-stall bathrooms in California to be gender-neutral. In 2013, California passed laws that allow people to use bathrooms and join sports according to their gender identities. President Obama told schools in May that transgender students should be allowed to use whatever bathroom and locker room that they choose.

However, not everyone agrees with Obama’s decision.

“This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama administration forcing its liberal agenda on states that roundly reject it,” said Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to the “Orange County Register.”

Plenty of people want men’s and women’s restrooms to stay separate; California’s legislation has not been repeated in many other states. In North Carolina, state law says that transgender people must use public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

Even in California, some people do not like this change.

“I don’t think we need to have anything but boys and girls bathrooms in the public schools,” said Susi Khan of Yorba Linda, Calif. to the Orange County education board, according to the “Orange County Register.”

Butler strongly supports unisex bathrooms in schools.

“I think the intent [of unisex bathrooms] was to create safe spaces for people of any gender to be able to have a restroom that they can use that is not a gender specific identifier,” said Butler. According to Butler, the staff also has unisex bathroom options, and Leigh is planning to add more.

Butler says that Leigh will comply if there is any more legislation announced about the bathrooms.

“I feel strongly that everyone should have access to a restroom that is the most convenient and comfortable,” she said.