Potty talk may be taboo, but amongst the students of our beloved Sequoyah’s high school, it’s the hot topic of grade-level meetings. The demand for more gender-neutral bathrooms is at an all time high; with more students flooding in each year, the percentage of people feeling uncomfortable in gendered bathrooms only grows. The biggest issue brought up in grade-level meetings is that there is only one gender-neutral bathroom, and it’s single use; this forces people who only feel comfortable using that bathroom to wait in long lines in the office hallway, missing up to 15 minutes of class just to comfortably urinate.
What may initially seem like a trivial issue has proven to be incredibly complicated when speaking with Sequoyah students. Whether a student is cis-gendered, non-binary, trans or none of the above, everyone agrees that there is a dire lack of ungendered restrooms. We need more spaces where one does not need to prove their gender or defy it in order to have a quick pee.
Mouri Fatheree, an 11th grade Sequoyah student, says that the biggest issue with the gender-neutral bathroom is its single use. It makes people line up outside and miss more class than they should just to use the restroom. He says, “The lines are just too long for the gender neutral bathroom. It’s incredibly frustrating that it’s single use. I wish they would have kept the upstairs women’s restroom gender neutral like it was freshman year. I don’t know why they changed it. There’s just not enough stalls upstairs, and not enough people can use it.” Like Fatheree says, it really does not make sense for there to be only one ungendered bathroom in comparison to the number of people who feel most comfortable with using ungendered bathrooms. The ratio is uneven, and everyone agrees there needs to be a change.
What’s more, students have brought up the fact that teachers are using the only gender-neutral bathroom, while they also have their own bathrooms. Fatheree points this out, saying, “Another thing is that teachers use the upstairs gender-neutral bathroom, which is really frustrating for me.” The bottom line is that there need to be more ungendered restrooms, and maybe teachers should leave the ungendered bathroom to students until that happens. It’s currently the only ungendered restroom on campus for students.
One student, Sookie Orth, agrees that there need to be more ungendered restrooms, but they also believe that binary restrooms can be a safe space for women-identifying students. Orth says, “I’m really conflicted about it, I don’t think there’s an exact right answer. I do have a hot take, which is that girls should have their own bathroom, only because the girls bathroom is like a sacred, safe space. Like I know I can go in there and not be around men, which is super comforting for me.” Having more ungendered bathrooms is a huge priority, but we cannot lose sight of the safe space that binary restrooms can bring for girl-identifying students, or any female students that feel comfortable using the girls bathroom. Orth adds that they don’t even believe in gender, but the space to be away from the patriarchal gaze is extremely important, saying that “I’m not personally about that gender stuff, I don’t think it’s real, but on the other hand it’s nice to have a safe space to escape to.” Orth is very open to co-ed or ungendered restrooms as well, but says it’s important to honor safe spaces for girls (no matter one’s sex).
Vin Rossi, another 11th grade student, has similar opinions as Orth and Fatheree. She says that, “I think the primary issue is that there is only one gender neutral bathroom available, and that restroom makes sense to be single use since it only has one stall. And there are other single use bathrooms that only teachers can use, and they still use our bathrooms, so why do they have teacher-only restrooms if they also are using the other ones?” Allied with Fatheree’s opinion about teachers using our restrooms, Rossi thinks that student bathrooms should stay just for students, especially with the dire situation involving ungendered restrooms. Along with teachers using student restrooms, Rossi says that the upstairs women’s bathroom is a perfect spot for another ungendered restroom, like it was only a few years ago. She says, “I think the women’s bathroom upstairs would be perfect for a multiple occupancy genderless bathroom.” Rossi also has important ideas about the narrative around the ungendered bathroom, saying, “Another thing is that I always hear people saying the upstairs bathroom should only be used by trans, non-binary, or gender-nonconforming students. Which I don’t fully agree with, because the issue is there are not enough gender-neutral bathrooms, because if it was truly gender-neutral everyone would be able to use it.” The whole point of a gender-neutral bathroom is that everyone can use it, and with more ungendered restrooms, there is more availability for any student to use the bathroom. It is counterproductive to create a genderless space and then say only trans, non-binary and other queer identities can use it.
Sequoyah needs more genderless restrooms, and Sequoyah students need more safe spaces, especially for simple acts like taking a pee. Beyond Orth, Fatheree, and Rossi, many students seem to agree that there need to be more gender-neutral bathrooms, and most students feel comfortable with co-ed bathrooms. The people want more! The people want safety! The people want to take a wee!