The question of a non-binary bathroom

Students share opinions on the question: should West High invest in creating a non-binary bathroom?


It’s a typical hot Iowan day. The sun has been blazing down on the school for hours. And, like the smart person you are, you’ve been drinking water consistently throughout your classes. However, the time has come to visit the bathroom. You raise your hand and ask to be excused. The teacher gives you permission, so you walk out of the classroom and toward the two bathroom doors. Two options, but neither to your preference. For many students, this isn’t a problem, the choice is simple, but for some, a binary choice is not good enough. Schools even still do not accommodate any other options, including West, whether it be a gender neutral bathroom, or a family restroom.

The ICCSD has a nondiscrimination policy in place, but not every school district is as accommodating. Iowa has passed laws preventing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, but this doesn’t represent the national norm. Some states go so far as to pass laws forcing discrimination. North Carolina recently passed a law requiring people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.

This past spring, the Obama Administration issued a directive to school districts around the country to accommodate transgender students use of restrooms. And even so, 11 states have joined together and sued the Obama Administration, reporting they have over stepped their boundaries. A Texas judge has ruled in the state’s’ favor. Jackson Elkins ‘18 said, “I feel like it’s blowing something out of proportion. I think they’re overreacting.”

Students here at West can use the bathroom of their choice, but other accommodations for those who don’t feel safe entering the bathroom they identify with have not yet been built, a gender neutral bathroom. Elkins said he thinks that West will soon adopt gen

Mason Hanson ’18

der neutral bathrooms. “I know that Liberty has them in the designs. I think that we’re getting them soon,” said Elkins ‘18.


Though on the flip side, the risk of abusers still frightens some students. Mason Hanson ‘18 said, “I think that the risks involved meaning a male can identify as a male and just walk in whenever they want.”

The fear that there is a possibility of sexual predators being able to enter restrooms freely is shared by others in the community. Students think that there is a responsibility that transgender students have, holding some power that others don’t. And, so that students who want to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as don’t abuse this power, they should have to seek legal permission first according Mikail Syed ’20. “I don’t think someone who is going to abuse the power is going to go through the steps,” said Syed.

But, others such as Kathy Bresnahan, a health teacher, disagree. “A woman who feels like a man going into a men’s restroom is far more at risk.”

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey 78% who expressed a transgender identity in grades K-12 reported being harassed by students, teachers, or staff. 1,876 Students were surveyed in this study. Transgender students frequently fear disruption or molestation. However, Hanson ‘18 said that, “I think West is a much more liberal place and welcoming to its students.” The acceptance of transgender students is still a shaky bridge. Though as Bresnahan said, “People are going to snicker and make comments but that probably happened when the first boys walked down the hallway holding hands.”