by Amelia Wu and Alana Hartsell
Following an eight year push for gender-neutral bathrooms by the Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club (GSA) and last year’s editorial highlighting M-A’s need for them, the administration has created a new gender-neutral restroom in the G-Wing, one of the busiest areas on campus. Though some expressed optimism, the majority of students interviewed expressed frustration over the bathrooms.
The new bathrooms, introduced at the beginning of this year as a pilot program, currently have three stalls. Replacing the G-Wing boys’ bathroom, the three stalls struggle to accommodate a constant flow of students. Sophomore Connor Cadigan said, “I think the gender-neutral restrooms are annoying. One time, I was super late to class because there was a huge line out the door.”
Additionally, male students have expressed frustration over the urinals being boarded up. Junior Claire Schott said, “A lot of the guys go in and pee on the plywood covering the urinals because they’re angry about them being boarded up.”
Administrative Vice Principal Stephen Emmi explained, “We didn’t want urinals in the gender-neutral bathrooms because both female and male students can use a regular toilet. Initially, we were doing this to make sure things run smoothly and our long term goal is to replace those urinals with stalls.”
Junior Sam Radar too expressed frustration over the lack of facilities. “The bathrooms are great, but…I want to be able to use my feminine products in this restroom, but these restrooms don’t provide trash cans. I’m forced to use the girl’s restrooms sometimes.”
Some students voiced their concerns on social media. In a Snapchat story, a student anonymously stated, “I s—– on the [gender-neutral] bathrooms as a joke, but I just don’t like the fact they blocked up the urinals… there are four other bathrooms around campus I could go to, but half of the time they’re locked. ”
Students have also posted videos of themselves vandalizing the restrooms. “…some people are obnoxious… making them unusable, like last week there was s— on the ground and the toilets were over flooded.” Junior Blake Matthews complained, “I went into the bathroom to see diarrhea on the lower wall and floor. The smell was really bad, so I left.” Additionally, according to multiple sources, students have been loitering outside, teasing male and female students that leave together. The informational signs put up by the GSA were consistently ripped off, leaving strips taped to the walls.
In light of these posts and events, GSA members expressed disappointment. Junior Austen Dollente said, “No one in GSA is using the bathrooms. Only one person has even gone in. I think that most of us are scared to use the gender-neutral bathroom because of the stigma around it or because of the remarks that we’ve heard or the aggression towards the bathrooms.”
Junior Maeson Linnert said similar things, “I’ve been terrified to go in since I saw the guys outside kicking the sign, ripping it off. I’ve been scared to go in—I’ve been saying that if I go in, I’d need a bodyguard or escort.”
However, Emmi did not express similar concerns, “I think the students are reacting well. I think people are using it, all genders, and it seems to be going really well. People are not verbalizing it as an issue.”
From AVID and history teacher Mallory Byrne’s perspective, implementation is a key issue with the bathroom. “I think that intention is really good. If we’re going to do these bathrooms and be more inclusive of a variety of different people on campus, we need more education. Instead of implementing the gender-neutral bathrooms, I think that Admin should have waited until some kind of education piece happened before putting them in. Video information isn’t enough. Peer to peer conversations need to happen; staff to staff conversations need to happen. There needs to be education on what being gender-neutral actually means, and what these bathrooms represent.”