Students speak out against closed restrooms

Certain LHS restrooms have been closed on and off since September


Dylan Wheatman

Restrooms were closed to combat vandalism and bad behavior in restrooms

By Tessa Collar, Reporter

In response to ongoing vaping and vandalism issues in restrooms, Lawrence High administration decided to lock many student restrooms in late September. All restrooms were closed for three days except for a multi-stall gender neutral restroom on each floor. 

Administration has since reopened most of the previously closed restrooms, however, some remained closed.  Despite the drastic measures, vandalism and vaping issues persist. 

The reopening occurred largely after The Lions Roar video announcements aired a segment, created by senior Olive Long, in which students spoke out against the closures. Principal Jessica Bassett stated that administration had been planning to open the restrooms soon after the closures anyways. 

“We heard the concerns, and of course we responded to them, but it was never our intention to do it for a long time,” Bassett said. “We were just trying to make sure that students knew there were going to be some expectations around the restrooms.” 

Despite LHS administration’s intentions, many students were upset with the closures. Some students, including senior Frances Parker, said they were late to class because of the closures. 

“Limiting that down just makes it unavailable and makes it so we don’t have opportunities to go to the restroom,” Parker said, “which I think is something that everyone needs to do, especially when we’re at school for like 8 hours a day, and have a right to a clean space.” 

Principal Jessica Bassett said administration and security worked to unlock the closed restrooms at the beginning of each passing period to allow students this time to use the restroom. 

After noticing the inconvenience of restroom closures herself, Long decided to make a short film interviewing students and faculty regarding their feelings about the issue, as well as Principal Bassett. 

“I thought it was a good opportunity to do what I like to do which is more like unique pieces of film but also raise awareness for the school,” Long said. “It feels good…like I made an impact.”

Although students and parents have expressed concern over the issue, Long believes that as long as vaping and vandalism continue, restrooms may be closed again. 

“I don’t think they’ll stay open,” she said, “because soon enough the idea of the video or just the idea of the restrooms being closed will kind of dissolve back again and they’ll probably close them again. But I think for now it’s a good conversation starter.”

Senior Katie Hurd shared how restroom closures made it more difficult for her to find a chance to use the restroom, resulting in a urinary tract infection. Although students could ask to use one of the few available restrooms during class, some were concerned about missing more class time due to a further walk to the restroom.

Hurd warned administration that closing restrooms could put more students at risk of health issues. 

“Please think about your choices of punishment before putting them in action,” Hurd said. “Think about how they can affect students. Think about how this can affect the learning time for students. It’s really frustrating, and it puts people in danger at the end of the day. I had to miss my extracurricular because I had to go to urgent care. Think before you act.”

Because gender-neutral restrooms were at times the only ones unlocked, these spaces became crowded and often unclean. Parker voiced concern for individuals that typically only use gender-neutral restrooms and the uncleanliness experienced. 

“As well as people who don’t want to use gendered restrooms at all, their spaces are unavailable and unclean because administration doesn’t care about the gender neutral bathrooms,” Parker said. “Those are expendable to administration and I think that indirectly affects a lot of people in this school.” 

While most restrooms have reopened, the period of closure has not stopped students from continuing to vape in restrooms. Junior Quinn Pleskac described seeing students vaping in a restroom he had often found to be closed in previous weeks. 

Pleskac questioned whether administration’s tactic was successful. 

“I can see where they’re coming from, but I feel like it’s not really doing anything to stop people from vaping,” Pleskac said. “I’d rather [restrooms] just stay open.”