All Gender restroom being used for skipping class


By Nadia Sanburn, Assistant Online Editor

Implementing the all-gender restroom last year was a huge win for LGBTQ+ students at LHS.

Many transgender or non-binary people say they feel uncomfortable using either the men’s or women’s restrooms due to the stares and confrontations they encounter. This is a common problem that faces the LGBTQ+ community, and the purpose of implementing the restroom was to combat the discomfort they feel.

Recently, however, some LHS students have been using the restroom as a way to skip class and do other things that are inappropriate during a school day. Slurs have been written on the stalls in permanent marker, and it has become another bathroom that LGBTQ+ people are uncomfortable using.

Wesley Schmoe, president of Total Equality Alliance, uses the all-gender bathroom every day.

“I have felt uncomfortable at times, when there are students in there either smoking, and there was one point when I was in the bathroom in a stall, and in the stall next to me there were people doing questionable things, and it made me very uncomfortable,” Schmoe said.

An idea Schmoe proposed was for there to be more check-ins by staff.  

“I think that with the gender-neutral bathroom, administration could make it so they have some kind of, every once in a while somebody passes through, sees what’s going on and leaves,” he said. “I know that there is something like that now, but I just don’t know if it should be more frequent or what, because it’s still happening, and it needs to get solved somehow, and since administration is administration, they should be able to figure that out on their own.”

Schmoe wants the bathroom to be used for its original purpose.

“I would like to see people respect the bathroom and just use it for what it’s supposed to be used for, and also to get more gender-neutral bathrooms at LHS, because we really really need more, because we only have one that’s upstairs, and it’s only two stalls, and that can be very irritating and also inaccessible at times, so it would be cool if there was just more,” he said.

 Inez Robinson, also a member of TEA club, has issues with what is happening in the All Gender Bathroom as well.

“I feel uncomfortable probably every time I go in there just because I always think about what goes on in the bathrooms, because there have been multiple cases of questionable things happening, and that really grosses me out,” Robinson said. “Right before fifth hour every single day, the same group of kids is in there Juuling, and they wait for me to leave, and they stare at me until I leave.”

Robinson thinks that school renovators should take into account the need for more all-gender restrooms.

“I think with the construction of the new school happening next year, they should really take into account that more bathrooms need to be gender neutral, to be normalized, so more kids aren’t just flocking to that one bathroom just to do all this, they can go to anywhere, so to make that bathroom less special, because having multiple bathrooms all over the place would be accessible and would create less of a urge for those kids to go to that one bathroom,” they said.

Assistant Principal Mark Preut said he has been working with the rest of administrators to combat the issues facing the all-gender bathroom.

“I have spoken with security and had them make frequent walk-throughs to get people out who are using the space as a “hangout” or a spot to skip class,” Pruett said. “We have also followed up on reports from teachers and caught some students who were vaping/Juuling in there. We are committed to providing this space for all students.”

The misuse was expected by principals when the bathroom was implemented.  

“When it first opened, we anticipated there would be a ‘newness’ factor and we did have several students who went into the bathroom to take pictures of males and females in the same bathroom. We tried to address that, and as I visited with TEA members it seemed like it died down after a few weeks,” he said. “This year I have heard from students that it has become a problem again and that students have begun to go in there to vape/Juul or just hang out sitting or lying on the floor.”

Pruett said the all-gender bathroom was important to implement.

“Students expressed the need and after working with a group of students we identified the bathroom and went through the process at the building and district level to make it happen. That some students are misusing this space does not detract from the importance of having it,” he said. “Students have misused gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms for generations so the fact that students would misuse the all gender bathroom is to be expected. Students who want to find a relatively private place to skip, smoke, hangout or whatever will seek those spaces out.”

Sophomore Eva Markoulatos has heard lots of different rumors involving the bathroom.

“Well, I’ve heard that people either skip class to go there or they have sexual intercourse there,” Markoulatos said.

She thinks it was important that LHS implemented the bathroom.

“I thought it was a really good idea, I thought it allowed students who either don’t identify as a specific gender or who are transgender to have a safe area where they don’t feel targeted to go to the bathroom,” she said.

Preut said the most important thing is for students to let him know what is going on.

“The first step is communication. Letting us know what the problems are so we can address them is important,” he said. “No one will feel comfortable using a bathroom with people lounging around on the floor, vaping or sharing pictures on social media. Having staff check on these locations will help prevent people from using them inappropriately and enhance the security and safety for all students.”