OP ED: PMHS Needs Gender Neutral Restrooms

Rachel Lief, Staff Reporter, Junior

Schools pride themselves in fostering a learning environment that provides students with equal opportunities to grow and thrive, yet an aspect of in-person education that undermines this objective is the absence of gender neutral bathrooms. Recently, there has been a student-led initiative, advocating for the installation of gender neutral bathrooms in Pelham Memorial High School. This addition is necessary in order to create an inclusive atmosphere within the school building by providing equitable access to necessities for students.

This initiative, led by junior Jordan Schwarz serves as a reminder that changes have yet to be implemented within the school district in order to provide students with a comfortable learning environment.

Regarding their plans, Schwarz states, “My goal is to have a bathroom in the school that any and all students can feel comfortable using. Speaking from personal experience, it is really upsetting and physically challenging to not feel comfortable using the bathroom for the entirety of the school year. I hope to relieve all current and future students of the burden and be able to feel comfortable.”

The addition of gender neutral bathrooms in schools has become more common throughout the past several years. At the end of 2020, Governor Cuomo signed bill A06500A into law, which would mandate the designation of one-person bathrooms as gender neutral in public buildings, such as in schools, state universities, and restaurants.

In Pelham public schools, there are few one person bathrooms, indicating that simply designating one person bathrooms as gender neutral is inadequate without the implementation of more gender neutral bathrooms. Although this significantly increases the accessibility of one person bathrooms, further change is necessary in order to create a more equitable atmosphere for education by increasing the amount of gender neutral bathrooms that are available to students.

Jordan has created a Google Form (which is linked to this article) for students to fill out, which will provide data that they will present to the Health and Wellness Committee in March. This form provides an opportunity for students to voice their opinions and express their concerns regarding the absence of gender neutral bathrooms in Pelham schools. 

Google form link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScRbk4AURpUTU-tmWuZSYl62ad55nWTZUhvk72OpnIg90nKQQ/viewform