Why Is the Restroom Locked?

The all-gender restroom in the Science Wing has been locked since early 2023, forcing students to use other restrooms or ask for a key to get in, and eliminating the one restroom that was intended to be a safe place for non-binary and transgender people on campus.

“It takes away from your class time having to walk all the way across campus,” said Estefany Naranjo-Cardenas, a freshman in the 5th period Tutorial in Room 113.

So, what happened?

Restrooms are often treated as a place to hang out and avoid class rather than a place to use privately and quickly. Sometimes students go there to use their phones or to vape. Also, there has been vandalism, which is disrespectful to the space and offensive to people using the restroom.

But the all-gender restroom is unique on campus. It was created more than five years ago after a group of students proposed the idea to Vice Principal Helen Kim and Principal Chris Bischof. They were part of the Gay Straight Alliance club, which was working on inclusivity for all genders and sexualities on campus. Similar efforts across the country were causing controversy. Transgender students are sometimes not allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

A year later, in the fall of 2017, Helen announced that the all-gender restroom would open in what used to be a women’s teachers’ restroom in the Science Wing. The Eastside Panther reported that students were happy about it at the time.

By five years later, in February 2022, people were taking it for granted and abused it. The Panther wrote an editorial urging students to stop using the restrooms – especially the all-gender bathroom – as a place to hang out.

Most students, however, don’t know the history of the all-gender restroom and weren’t particularly troubled by its suddenly being locked. Of 11 students in the Room 113 tutorial during 5th period on May 3, only four expressed concerns. Freshman Valeria Hernandez said it is a problem “because now we have to walk further to go to the other bathroom.”

But senior Angel Torres noted the bigger problem.

“For those who don’t identify as male or female, they might feel more comfortable going to a place where they know they don’t have to worry if it’s male or female, and closer to the Science Wing,” Angel said.

Helen said that the restroom was useful for two years, with the pandemic years in the middle.

“And then, over time, students were letting me know that they were not comfortable using the gender neutral bathroom because there were students who were making the space uncomfortable,” Helen said. She added that anyone who needs to use the all-gender bathroom can ask her for the key.

Physics teacher Craig Young was the advisor of the Gay Straight Alliance Club when it proposed the all-gender bathroom in 2016 as a safe place for any student to use.