Locked out of inclusivity

Inaccessible gender-neutral bathrooms create frustration


Jacob Perszyk

One of the six all-gender restrooms is located in the A3 hallway. All-gender restrooms are valuable for students who feel uncomfortable in gendered restrooms, according to senior Kris Moe.

Sophia Curran-Moore

According to senior Kris Moe, the hassle of coordinating bathroom usage during school is exacerbated for non binary students. Moe said finding a restroom feels like solving a math problem.

“It’s really not ideal. I have to be very strategic about when I use the bathroom, which is annoying,” Moe said. “It’s just so frustrating.”

Moe and other non binary students have reported struggling to find restrooms in Park that are both accessible and comfortable.

Senior Jacy Demcisak said they have been rebuked for their gender expression, which makes them feel anxious in gendered restrooms.

“In fifth grade, I got yelled at to get out of the girls’ bathroom because I had short hair and boys’ clothes, so I’ve always felt uncomfortable in the girls’ bathroom,” Demcisak said.

Assistant principal Jessica Busse said gender-neutral restrooms are important for the privacy of non binary students.

“Students having access to all bathrooms is important. Our gender-neutral bathrooms are important for our students that are gender-fluid, and having that privacy of the bathrooms is really important,” Busse said.

Senior Avi Pestana said they prefer gender-neutral restrooms, but they don’t use them in school, because they are so inconvenient.

“If the gender-neutral bathrooms were more accessible, if they were near my classes, then I would go,” Pestana said. “Currently, they’re all out of the way. It would be way too much effort to walk to where they are, and if they’re locked, there’s no point anyway,” Pestana said.

Moe said the only two consistently available gender-neutral restrooms at Park are in an inconvenient location.

“There are six gender-neutral bathrooms at (Park), but only two of them are regularly accessible. They’re both in the students services office, which is on the opposite end of the school from everything else,” Moe said.

According to Pestana, having a non-gendered restroom in each wing would improve the situation.

“Make sure there’s one gender-neutral bathroom in each wing. Then it’s not a hassle to go to one, and they’re available,” Pestana said.

According to Moe, four of the gender-neutral restrooms at Park are often locked or result in reproach, meaning they usually can’t be used by students.

“There are two (gender-neutral restrooms) in the Learning Lab, but the door to the Learning Lab is usually locked … there’s one by the athletic hallway, and you can get in there, but only if the gym doors are unlocked,” Moe said. “The one that I didn’t mention is in the main office, which isn’t a lot better than going to student services — I got told off once for going in there.”

Being in a gendered space makes me uncomfortable, because they’re gendered femininely, or they’re gendered masculinely, and I’m not either.

— Avi Pestana

Pestana said they avoid using the restroom during school, but when they have to, the restroom that is most convenient to use makes them feel uneasy.

“I try not to use the bathroom in school at all. However, it feels a little weird to be going into the most accessible bathroom, which to me, is the women’s bathroom,” Pestana said. “Being in a gendered space makes me uncomfortable, because they’re gendered femininely, or they’re gendered masculinely, and I’m not either.”

Moe said finding a suitable bathroom takes longer than passing time, meaning they have to miss out on their learning.

“If I’m in band sixth hour and I have to use the bathroom … it legitimately takes me about 15 minutes,” Moe said. “Passing period is five minutes, so even if I was as fast as possible, that’s still going to take me ten minutes into my class time, which isn’t great,” Moe said.

Demcisak said waiting until it’s possible to go to the Hennepin County library is easier than using the gender-neutral restrooms in the high school.

“There are days when I feel comfortable using the girls’ bathroom, and there are days when I’m really not. However, I don’t want to walk the whole way (to student services),” Demcisak said. “I wait until fourth or fifth hour to go to the Hennepin County library because there are gender-neutral bathrooms there.”

Moe said using any gendered restroom is out of the question, so gender-neutral restrooms are indispensable.

“I would be so uncomfortable going into the women’s restroom … I would rather pee my pants than do that,” Moe said. “The men’s bathrooms are generally locked, and I really don’t feel comfortable going in there … Even though they’re out of my way, I’m going to use the gender-neutral ones instead of those. They’re important because I need to pee somewhere.”