Gender-neutral bathrooms provide a safer environment for all students

MARIAH CARRILLO / DAILY TITAN

MARIAH CARRILLO / DAILY TITAN

On Aug. 12, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1266, a bill that forbids schools K-12 from discriminating on the basis of specific characteristics, including gender, gender identity and gender expression.

The bill states the, “existing law requires that participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, be available to pupils of each sex. This bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

Mary Jackson, a freelance writer for World Magazine, said AB 1266 makes California the first state in the nation to allow students to choose bathrooms, showers, locker rooms and sports teams based on their “perceived” gender identity rather than their biological gender.

Parents and teachers are concerned that the bill would be detrimental to the privacy of children, yet, they do not take into account those individuals who do not coincide with the gender relations of the societal norm.

People are afraid for the privacy of their children, but do not share the same sympathy with regards to the privacy of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) children.

What about the safety of all the gender nonconforming students that are intimidated, harassed and sometimes physically attacked in the gender segregated bathrooms?

The Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Campaign from the University of Chicago said intimidation in public bathrooms generally happens because queer and gender-transgressive people are perceived to be trespassing on others’ sense of space.

The thought of sharing a bathroom with an individual with a different sexual orientation than someone is uncomfortable to some, which can make a hostile environment for the individual in question.

AB 1266 is a law that does not discriminate against individuals and accounts for the safety and privacy of all students, not just some.

A gender neutral bathroom is a bathroom that anyone of any gender can use. In contrast, a gender segregated bathroom is one with the mark “women” or “men” on the door.

What many people do not understand is that gender neutral bathrooms are not only for those students that do not feel comfortable at at gender segregated bathroom, but for parents with differently gendered children and for people who need an attendant in the restroom who may be a different gender.

Gender neutral bathrooms are simply a necessity and not only in the K-12 schools, but in the universities, shopping centers, airports and other public places.

Portland Community College has gender neutral bathrooms, believing it is a way to create a safer campus environment for students, staff, faculty and community PCC who are gender nonconforming.

“They are also a way for PCC to show trans and gender nonconforming people that our community values their presence and cares about their health and safety,” according to the PCC website.

According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, currently more than 150 college and university campuses have gender-neutral bathrooms.

Currently, CSUF has several gender neutral restrooms on campus, one on the first floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building and another one on the second floor of the Student Recreational Center.

Last week, petitioners were seen outside the Pollak Library asking for signatures to repeal AB 1266.

The deadline is Nov. 12 for the campaign to collect over half a million signatures to prevent the law from taking effect on Jan. 1. If the signatures are collected the referendum will place the issue on the November 2014 ballot, allowing Californians to make the final decision.

Communities across the state need to make a conscious decision to approve of this law. Communities should show the nonconforming gender population that they value their individualism and ideals and will provide them with a safe environment.

About Andres Martinez

Andres is a staff writer on the Daily Titan. Serving as a staff writer of the Daily Titan is a requirement for all Journalism majors.