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All-gender bathroom installed under new law

Natasha Dardashti multimedia editor

New regulations from the California state government created a requirement for a single-stall all-gender bathroom to be implemented in all government facilities, including public schools, beginning March 1. In accordance with this law, a new gender-neutral bathroom has been installed and is planning on being opened this week. For transgender (trans) students, this is a step to a more accepting environment.

Construction of the bathroom took nearly two weeks after an eight week delay due to change order complications with the construction company, Totem, currently renovating campus.

“We wanted to get it done, but there was some red tape and some issues that just didn’t get it done,” principal Dave Jackson said. “I had to make the decision that I needed to get [the bathroom built], so we took it away from the construction and gave it to Maintenance and Operations, who have jumped on it right away.”

In the weeks leading up to the opening of the gender-neutral bathroom, trans students were given access to special bathrooms around campus, including staff bathrooms and the principal’s bathroom. However, senior Kane del Rosario prefers the idea of using a normal bathroom available to everyone.

Being a trans guy in this school already makes me feel a bit out of place. I mean, sure, I do have the support of friends and faculty, but I don’t want anyone holding my hand as I go to the men’s room,” del Rosario said. “Sometimes, I feel like I can’t use the bathroom [that] I have the right to use. So, I’d like a normal bathroom so I can feel normal.”

Junior Grayson Moore believes that the importance of a gender-neutral bathroom lies in its creation of a safe space for trans students. To him, the debate of trans bathrooms is not one of politics, but of basic human rights.

“These bathrooms would impact me specifically because it would create a safe place for me, and it would create a step in the right direction,” Moore said. “I think gender-neutral bathrooms are important because it creates a safe environment for people in the LGBT community to use the bathroom, where they feel respected and safe.”

For del Rosario, dilemmas lie in using either type of existing gendered bathrooms on campus.

“When I am using the bathroom that I was assigned to use at birth, I feel especially uncomfortable and disconnected. Then, when I go to the bathroom that I prefer to use, I get weird looks and I’m constantly afraid of harassment. That hasn’t happened so far, but it’s just a fear of mine,” del Rosario said.

Besides the law requiring it, one of Jackson’s main motives behind the bathroom is to make all students feel welcome on campus. He believes that the new bathroom will accommodate everyone.

“I think we are supposed to make sure that everybody, all of you guys, are comfortable on campus. And I think that what Governor Brown was trying to do [with this law] is make sure that the transgender population is comfortable on campus,” Jackson said.

In February, when the bathroom was already under construction, President Trump rescinded federal protections for trans students using bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. To del Rosario, this is a contradiction to Trump claiming support for the LGBT community.

“I’m furious, you know? He [Trump] says he’s pro-LGBT, but I bet he doesn’t even know what that means. Anyway, this shows how he really doesn’t know how to ‘Make America Great Again’ if he can’t even make it [America] safe,” del Rosario said.

Trump’s revocation of this federal rule has left individual states in charge of determining regulations. Besides the new law requiring an all-gender single-stall bathroom, other California codes exist to protect trans students. For example, Education Code section 221.5 states that a student is allowed to participate in sex-segregated activities and use school facilities corresponding to their gender identity.

California may provide students more protections than the federal government requires, [and] Beverly complies with California law,” Chris Hertz, Director of Student Services and Special Projects, said.

Feelings of fear were Moore’s initial reactions to Trump’s new policy. Because of his own personal experiences, issues concerning rights for trans youth deeply concern him.

“It helps create a space and room for anger and violence against people in the LGBT community,” Moore said. “It was a step backwards, and it’s frankly disturbing how much we continue to go back in time when it comes to basic rights.”

Del Rosario hopes that the new bathroom will help to create an accepting environment for all trans youth.

Even if I wasn’t a trans guy, I would find it important for students to feel safe in school. Maybe they don’t have a safe space at home, so they turn to school,” del Rosario said. “I want to feel safe. I want others to feel safe.”

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