A handful of schools in the Kansas City area have abandoned the traditional bathroom design and will offer students gender-neutral restrooms this school year, with boys and girls using stalls adjacent to one another.
The wall outside the restroom features boys and girls symbols, according to The Kansas City Star. It is being offered at two new elementary schools and at renovated restrooms at a high school.
“I think it is great,” Melanie Austin, a parent of a first-grade girl, told the newspaper. “You just don’t know what gender a kid might identify as. This helps everyone to feel comfortable, accepted.”
The inside of the bathrooms look different than traditional stalls seen at schools, restaurants and stores. Each stall is an individual “room,” with floor-to-ceiling walls and a lockable door. Boys and girls wash their hands at the same sink in a common area, allowing teachers to stand in the common area and monitor students, the newspaper said.
“Students said they like these restrooms better because they are more private,” Rochel Daniels, executive director of organizational development, told The Star.
The gender-neutral restrooms are featured at Rising Hill Elementary and Northview Elementary and at North Kansas City High School. They’re also opening at the Eastgate and Gateway sixth-grade centers, the newspaper reported.
Some people hope it’s a solution to the transgender bathroom debate. But on the newspaper’s Facebook page, readers were mostly critical, saying it will spark new problems.
“As a retired high school teacher you never allow students into an area where they can completely lock authorities from access,” Joe Greenwell wrote. “The locked rooms will become places where kids can smoke and have sex without the interference of authorities. As for smoking drugs if they can't prove it, flush it, they are scott free.”
Another reader, Peter Bernegger, wrote, “[H]ow can basic biology be SO miss understood, turned on its head, by a whole city? Hey people -- you don't get to choose your gender, science says so. Note how the article is written to make this appear ‘normal.’ Fight back, don't let this happen to your community.”
Still another reader had more practical concerns: “I feel sorry for the girls. Boys have bad aim.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Adrian Naranjo
Video courtesy: The Kansas City Star