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All-gender bathrooms in Harding: is it a good idea?

An+all-gender+bathroom+sign.+Photo+provided+by+user+Checkingfax+on+Wikimedia+Commons.
An all-gender bathroom sign. Photo provided by user Checkingfax on Wikimedia Commons.

An all-gender bathroom sign. Photo provided by user Checkingfax on Wikimedia Commons.

An all-gender bathroom sign. Photo provided by user Checkingfax on Wikimedia Commons.

Aishat Daud, Reporter

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At Harding, students who want to use an all-gender bathroom are out of luck. While it’s not possible to speak for all students that are non-binary, genderfluid, gender-neutral or nongendered, some of these group of students feel uncomfortable using the bathrooms at Harding. “Here at Harding, more specifically it’s kinda scary,” said Kyle Taylor, a transgender student. “Being openly trans… I think is a bold thing to do, and I know that there are transphobic people at Harding.”

However, not all students feel uncomfortable with Harding’s binary gender bathrooms. “I pretty much feel comfortable, but if there is like a ton of people I guess no… I’m not too comfortable”, said Tony Vue, a agender student.

No matter the gender of the student, students expressed fear of invaded privacy when using public bathrooms in general. For non-binary gender students, there is extra discomfort , and these students urge the need for the right bathrooms for all or one bathroom for all gender.

Even without all-gender bathrooms Kyle and Tony both find Harding diverse, but Ms. Jarmick, a math teacher and a GSA advisor, said she thinks without an all-gender bathroom, Harding is not as welcoming as it should be.

This issue can have a huge effect on students’ bodies, said Molly Keenan, a social studies teacher and Dare 2 Be Real advisor. “They experience physical pain as a result of that, and you know, there is a lot of control over students’ bodies particularly in school,” she said. “There are pass systems, escorts, and like, it’s not good.”

This physical pain from not using the bathroom when in need of it can cause ongoing distraction for students while trying to learn, Ms. Keenan added.

Adding all-gender bathrooms for students may cause a feeling of insecurity for students who have not yet come out to say that they do not abide by their biological gender. “The problem with that is that then you’re taking somebody (and) you’re basically creating like a special case for somebody,” Ms. Jarmick said. “Any time that you create a special case or somebody has to go above and beyond what other people have to do in order to just use the bathroom, it’s harder on themselves.”

Tony Vue, Ms. Jarmick and Ms. Keenan all agreed that the issue of discomfort that occurs for some non-binary, gender-neutral and genderfluid students is the same for cisgender students (students who identify with their biological sex).  Specifically, exposed stalls create concerns about of others peeking at the person using the stall. Similarly, binary gender students may feel uncomfortable knowing that there is a non-binary, gender-neutral or genderfluid person in the bathroom, and vice versa.

At the same time, all-gender bathrooms can affect people in other ways, based on their history. “As a victim of sexual abuse by men I felt really uncomfortable being in a bathroom line with men,” Ms. Keenan.

There are many accounts about the impact of all gender bathrooms on people, making it hard for people to trust each other in a bathroom for all genders. “They’re afraid of sexual violence, they’re afraid of physical violence, they’re nervous going to those bathrooms,” said Ms. Keenan.

At Johnson High School there is an all-gender bathroom. The bathroom stalls have sealed doors, but the bathroom itself has no walls. With the sink and mirror open for all to see, is less likely that another student would come into the bathroom to bully another student.

Although Harding doesn’t have an all-gender bathroom easily accessible to students now, there is a chance that there could be at least one in the future. Just like interracial marriage, homosexuality and integration of races were not accepted socially until quite recently, all-gender bathrooms will likely become more socially acceptable, Ms. Keenan said. So societal changes will become realities at Harding, too.

 

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All-gender bathrooms in Harding: is it a good idea?