Lake Oswego hasn’t always been the most inclusive place. We have had our ups and downs dealing with hate and people unwilling to accept change. Now, with the construction of gender-neutral and all-inclusive bathrooms at Lakeridge Middle School, the Lake Views Editorial Board would like to officially take a stand with the LGBTQ+ community in supporting this plan.
For years, transgender and gender non-conforming students all across the nation have had a constant struggle over which bathroom they can and should use. Some argue that gender-nonconforming people should only use the bathrooms of the gender that they were born as, suggesting that gender is a biological and anatomical idea; however, this mindset excludes millions. People who exist outside of the normalized “male” and “female” identifications typically have to either conform to this close-minded ideology, avoid the restrooms during school by dehydrating themselves or use their gender-identified restroom and possibly face harassment from students. Gender non-conforming students, including those who are intersex, gender-fluid, etc. who don’t holistically identify with their assigned genders from birth also don’t have an inclusive place to go.
There have been complaints, bullying and lawsuits brought upon these students, which further marginalize them. A gender-neutral bathroom is a wonderful solution to this problem.
Transgender and gender non-conforming students are an integral part of our community. These bathrooms will eliminate, or at least reduce, students’ fear of judgment for simply existing. Everyone deserves a safe place to exist and, at the end of the day, a school’s job is to promote education and safety, not mandate certain conceptions of gender.
In addition, these restrooms will offer added privacy provided by their single-stall-communal-sink facilities that will benefit students as a whole. No one enjoys the gaps between the door or the ability to hear every sound that is made in the bathrooms. With multiple kinds of restrooms ― one being a traditional “Starbucks bathroom” for single-use and others being “stall corridors” ― there are many options. This layout, described in the article on page one about this issue, is designed to accommodate all users, emphasizing the idea of inclusivity that LOSD aims to promote.
Lake Views would also like to acknowledge the issues that many parents have been bringing up about these bathrooms during school board meetings: that students will have too much privacy, be exposed to heinous things in the communal area and may even be physically harassed or sexually assaulted in these bathrooms.
These concerns are invalid and have been blown out of proportion by fear-mongering and misinformation. Non-gendered restrooms, especially ones that Lakeridge Middle School modeled their restrooms after, have been proven to be safe for students.
In gendered restrooms, people already do drugs, get in fights and do other generally bad things. Non-gendered restrooms will not exacerbate these issues. Bad things will happen no matter the layout of the bathrooms or who uses them. Like it or not, students who would Juul in the bathrooms with concrete walls will also do so behind the plastic ones with large cracks. Since the restrooms are all-inclusive as well, it actually would make it less likely for students to be up to nefarious business because teachers and staff would be using them alongside students.
Parents have also proposed having three types of bathrooms, one with the aforementioned gender-neutral restrooms and two for the cisgender “male” and “female” restrooms. This, simply put, isn’t enough. The idea of obligatory accommodations is integration ― allowing for non-conforming students to have a bathroom to use, but still clearly distinguishing them from the rest of the community. It’s ultimately easy to ignore or set ourselves apart from our transgender and gender non-conforming students, however, if we want to make spaces for people to feel and be equal, we can’t perpetuate the scarily similar “separate, but equal” ideas that fueled the xenophobia of Jim Crow in the early 1900s.
We can’t claim to support transgender and gender non-conforming students while being against inclusive bathrooms. We can’t promote the idea of having these bathrooms in addition to the typical single-gendered bathrooms, either. The editorial board would like to applaud the school district for this decision to construct gender-neutral bathrooms, taking steps to, as a community, include all students, not just integrate the ones that aren’t in line with the majority.
Be informed about the whole issue in our article “Lakeridge Middle School bathroom plans face exasperated opposition”