New bathroom procedure provides new facilities for transgender students
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Despite President Donald Trump’s recent repeal of protections for transgender students that allowed them to use the bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity, RBHS continues to move forward in the progression of LGBTQIA+ rights.
RB is trying to become more accepting of gender identity by implementing new policies which allow for the designation of transgender bathrooms. The bathrooms are available for everyone, however, the bathrooms are mainly for the use of transgender students.
“We have some students that are transgender and while they felt supported in school, we wanted to make sure we were very proactive for any student who may feel like they’re not comfortable using the bathroom facilities that we have. So, we felt it was important to have a variety of options available for students,” said Principal Kristin Smetana.
Previously, students would have to receive special permission to use the gender neutral bathroom in the nurse’s office. With the new procedure, students may use the former faculty women’s bathroom on the second floor near the art pit or the former first floor faculty bathroom by the nurse’s office.
“We tried to pick bathrooms that were centrally located in the building for students or staff and was not heavily used by staff. There are particular ones depending where the other student bathrooms are that are used more frequently than not, or if there is a concentration of female staff by one bathroom and male by another,” said Smetana.
The gender neutral bathrooms are only one of the steps RB is taking in order to accommodate its transgender population. Students have the opportunity to choose their preferred name and pronoun on their student IDs through Skyward.
“We want to make sure all transgender students are provided the same opportunities and not only compared to their other peers. We ask them a series of questions, like if a student wants to change their school email address to reflect their name. It walks through a series of things that might be impacted in a student’s life and making sure we’re supporting those students in those areas,” said Smetana.
Additionally, the school is working on creating a neutral space in the locker rooms for transgender students.
“We are in the process of creating additional changing rooms in the PE locker rooms, however that won’t take place until the summer because of the added cost associated with that and some more structural places,” said Smetana.
English Teacher Kathleen Harsy called a meeting with Smetana to initiate a change in the bathroom procedure. The administration and staff are supportive of the new policies and are excited for what is to come.
“I think the administration and the staff want to be able to support all of the students at RB and provide a safe learning environment for every student and this is just one example of how we are striving to do that and it is important to continue to get feedback from students and support them in their learning environment as well,” said Smetana.