The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

What's Up With The Gender Neutral Bathrooms?

Akeira Jennings

Managing Editor

As the school year draws to it’s end, Latin has already begun planning and instituting changes for next year. One of the first changes was the creation of student accessible gender neutral bathrooms. Although they have existed on the second floor for years, they were only open to the faculty. While the change is seemingly a matter of convenience, in reality, it is so much more.

At Latin, we strive to be a united community. We value our ability to be unique and accepted despite our differences. When Mrs. Sabel wrote the proposal for the gender -neutral-single-user bathrooms, she had those very principals and values in mind. As a proud LGTB (Lesbian ,Gay, Transgender, and Bisexual) Activist and graduate in minority studies, she noticed a very significant flaw in our community. By not having single user bathrooms for everyone, students or guests with certain conditions were not given privacy and prevention from possible ridicule and harassment. There are many instances in which privacy is preferred, for there may be students that cannot identify with either gender or students with health issues that would rather keep their issues disclosed. During this school year, guest speaker Mark Elliot repeatedly talked of his “sanctuary”. He mentioned how whenever he used public bathrooms it was a loud, embarrassing, and often an uncomfortable experience. Mark Elliot may have simply been a guest, but his fear of being publicly embarrassed is something that dwelled within our own community. Statistics show that at least one in every 1,000 children born, is born with an intersex condition. Since Latin’s community surpasses 1,000, a student attending with an intersex condition is quite likely.

Mrs. Sabel courageously crafted the proposal “to keep the students most vulnerable, safe”. In so many schools, students with health or intersex conditions are the object of ridicule and abuse. Although some students believe that the separate gender neutral bathrooms, only further the isolation of these students, Mrs. Sable believes that “if there was a student who didn’t feel comfortable with identifying with either of the standard gender bathrooms, that student could choose the bathroom they felt most comfortable with, without fear of ridicule”.

All school year, Mrs. Sabel has opened her single user bathroom for anyone in need. Although this was a kind gesture, it could not remain as the only private restroom as it’s location is extremely inconvenient. The once faculty bathrooms are located on the second floor adjacent to Gallery 2. They were chosen as the best location for their privacy from student visibility, accessibility to both the middle and upper school, as well as their prior use as gender neutral bathrooms by faculty members.

While the approval of the proposal may have been enough for some, Mrs. Sabel began preparing her next mission. That mission once again consisted of students overcoming fear and apprehension, as she has designed a GLTBQQ mentoring program. The objective of this program is “to help LGTBQQ students feel supported as they navigate their world”. Mrs. Sabel and other faculty members involved in such advantageous changes are all striving to “create an environment in which it responds to differences.”


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  • B

    brossSep 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Congratulations Akeria on a wonderful well written article! It is informative,and insightful. Great reporting!
    And Special Thanks to Ms. Sabel for addressing this need. Too bad there are so few single bathrooms.

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What's Up With The Gender Neutral Bathrooms?