Genderless bathrooms can help foster non-binary acceptance November 13, 2015 — by Katherine Zhou Two years ago, California lawmakers signed AB 1266 into law, an amendment that requires schools to allow students to join sports teams and use facilities consistent with the gender they identify with. Two years ago, California lawmakers signed AB 1266 into law, an amendment that requires schools to allow students to join sports teams and use facilities consistent with the gender they identify with. While this measure is a step in the right direction, Saratoga High should follow Monta Vista High’s lead and go one step further: The school should introduce at least one genderless bathroom for gender fluid and non-binary (of no gender) students. For many of these students, going to traditionally gender-specific bathrooms is severely uncomfortable. For instance, a transgender student who is not ready to announce his or her identity may feel that they cannot go to the bathroom without judgment from their peers. By forcing students to indicate their gender identity to the public, they are exposed to potential violence and teasing as a result of their premature “coming out.” Every time they go to the bathroom, non-binary students are forced to assign themselves a gender, when they don’t conform with either one. Frustration among gender fluid and non-binary students and their allies has inspired organized protests at some schools. Two years ago, Wesleyan University students, under the alias “Pissed Off Trans People,” started to rip down gender signs on bathrooms in addition to posting flyers arguing for gender fluid bathrooms. Several local schools like Monta Vista and San Francisco’s Miraloma Elementary recently have recently adopted gender-neutral bathrooms. "You want to make every student feel like they’re included and part of the community and safe and secure," Ellen Schatz, Miraloma’s PTA president, told the Today News. "I would hope that this is the wave of the future." Some may argue that some students may abuse a genderless bathroom by claiming that are transgender or non-binary, when in reality they identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. However, since transgender or non-binary students are often seen stigmatized or bullied, it is likely that most students who do not identify as such will continue to use male or female facilities. Even in the rare or unlikely case that the general school population uses the genderless bathroom, it will not be a problem, since any genderless facility should be single-person and fully lockable, similar to an airplane bathroom. Another potential concern is that a genderless bathroom would be difficult to implement. However, all it requires is a single-person bathroom converted for single-person use by students, and labeled as gender-neutral. In this way, gender-neutral students could discreetly use these facilities. For many transgender and non-binary students, genderless bathrooms are a key step toward feeling safe and comfortable at school. Not only will this help students who do not identify as male or female or are still transitioning between genders, it will also foster an environment free of gender expectations.