In 2013, California became the first state to codify the right for transgender students to choose bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
And even so, 9 years later, there was a battle over a Long Beach high school’s plan to build a gender-neutral locker room. A focus group trialed the experience and found that students of all gender identities generally expressed discomfort with changing around people of the opposite sex.
So Wilson High went back to the drawing board and figured out a way to make it more private and still keep things safe, extending partitions further toward the floor and ceiling and limiting locker heights to waist-high to allow coaches to observe the general spaces to keep people safe.
Overall, it’s been positively received. Critics worry about bullying and self-image, but advocates say it’s something positive all students can benefit from and here’s why.
In a place where steps are made to be inclusive, students know that they are welcome. Regardless of whether they’re trans, cisgender, gay, straight, or anything else on a spectrum outside of the gender binary and heterosexual, moves towards inclusiveness help them feel welcomed.
It’s the kind of gesture that makes a difference just by virtue of having been made. And in an environment where kids feel as though they’re welcomed and celebrated for who they are, their sense of self is stronger.
The Wilson High battle over locker rooms may be a microcosm of what the rest of the country will look like as progressive elements begin folding into inclusive opportunities. Seeing how it plays out and how the kids feel about it as time goes by can help be a blueprint for other high schools considering similar steps.
It may be all but inevitable, as Gen Z is generally more open to the idea of inclusive spaces. Unlike their parents, who have concerns about safety, kids today are more interested in making spaces accessible and practical for all. Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the LA Times recently, “that if students are being harassed in bathrooms, that’s a school-climate issue, not a gender issue.” Heng-Lehtinen said, “Harassment is still illegal in a gender-neutral facility. Protections and norms around acceptable behavior still apply.”
Nope not ok! Most women are not “positively” receiving this. Women and girls should not have to worry about walking into restroom and fearing what they may see. When will this nonsense end already and we can stop playing woke fairytale land?