A space for everyone

PHS announces new gender neutral bathroom

Before+the+new+bathroom+was+installed%2C+transgender+students+and+students+who+wished+to+use+a+gender+neutral+bathroom+had+to+walk+to+the+nurses+office+near+the+commons.%C2%A0

Photo by: Natalie Ruiz

Before the new bathroom was installed, transgender students and students who wished to use a gender neutral bathroom had to walk to the nurses office near the commons. 

Story by Ashlan Brooks and Emma Mayhew

On May 7 2021, PHS Equality club announced that they would be heading a project to create a gender neutral restroom within the school. This decision was reached by the president of the club at the time, senior Lane Phifer. While Phifer graduated before he could see the completed project, the students he left behind have been able to use it since it was officially opened for use at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Junior Max Battaglia is one of the students who rely on having a gender neutral bathroom. 

“I’m very happy it’s there,” Battaglia said. “I think it’s a big step towards equality for trans students. I know several trans people who used to avoid using the restroom throughout the school day because there weren’t any restrooms that they felt safe or comfortable using. This has helped a lot with that issue.

Before the new bathroom was installed, transgender students and students who wished to use a gender neutral bathroom had to walk to the nurses office near the commons. 

“My main inconvenience [with using the nurses’ bathroom] was the distance from many of my classes,” Battaglia said. “I had to wait longer and more frequently for the restroom than other students due to it being a single stall and being used by several trans students, students who were injured or unwell, and the nurse staff.”

Junior Ella Rhuems also believes that this bathroom is a step in the right direction. 

“I’m very glad that PHS finally has a gender-neutral bathroom,” Rhuems said. “We’ve always been a pretty progressive school and I think it was great of the administration and the board to all be up for this change.”

I think it’s a big step towards equality for trans students.”

— Max Battaglia

While the bathroom provides many benefits in the eyes of its users, it also presents some worries for Battaglia.

“I’m concerned about what happens if the restroom is out of order one day,” Battaglia said. “This happened every once in a while when I was using the nurse’s restroom and it wasn’t much of a problem because I could just go to the counselor’s office and ask to use their restroom, but students who aren’t as open about their identity may not feel comfortable doing so.”

Equality club sponsor and band teacher Cooper Neil hopes that someday soon the restroom will become even more inclusive for the students who rely on it.

“The other thing that we’re working on, is trying to get some locker storage in there,” Neil said. “One of the issues is students having a safe and comfortable place to dress out for PE classes.”

As of right now, the club has painted the walls of the bathroom to make it a welcoming space for students and will continue to build upon the project so it can be used by many students in the coming years.

“I think it is very necessary,” Rhuems said. “There are many students who don’t feel comfortable using a female or male bathroom. It’s really important to make all students feel comfortable and included.”