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Oregon high school introduces unisex toilets for transgender students

A school in Northeast Portland has introduced unisex toilets to cater for transgender and other gender non-conforming students – though the bathrooms will be available to anyone who wants to use them
Grant High School in Portland

Northeast Portland’s Grant High School has introduced six unisex bathrooms across its grounds to cater to transgender and other gender non-conforming students who may feel uncomfortable using sex segregated bathrooms.

The school converted four student and two teacher single stall bathrooms into unisex toilets at a cost of less that $500 – mostly associated with changing locks and new signage.

Previously transgender students who felt uncomfortable with toilets segregated by gender had been given a key to a staff toilet. Now any student at the school who feels comfortable using a unisex toilet will be able to access one.

17-year old Grant High School student Scott Morrison, who has identified as male since he was a small child, told his school magazine that he had previously deliberately dehydrated himself to avoid having to use the school’s bathrooms.

‘I did not drink liquids from the hours of 6 am and 3:30 pm,’ Morrison said.

‘If I had to drink something, I’d go into the women’s bathroom. I would rather feel kind of unpleasant [in there] than terrified in the men's bathroom.’

Morrison’s school psychologist, Becca Dorn-Medieros, welcomed the move.

‘Gendered bathrooms present an issue for any gender nonconforming people, whether or not they identify as transgender,’ Dorn-Medieros said, ‘It’s a huge safety issue for people.’

The school’s Vice-Principal Kristyn Westphal said that the concerns around bathroom access for transgender students had been brought to the school’s attention by its school counselors and that the school had come to recognize what a big factor access to appropriate bathrooms could be in keeping transgender students in school.

‘It was directly related to equity, and that’s something that [our school] district really prioritizes,’ Westphal said, adding that the approval process had taken only a month.

‘A month seems like a long time, but in the general scheme of things, it’s actually really fast to make it happen,’ Westphal said.

‘It folds really nicely into the work that we have done around bullying and acceptance, and trying to make sure that everyone feels safe and at home here.’

Grant High School, named for the Civil War general Ulysses S Grant, is Portland’s largest high school and currently has between five and ten students who identify as transgender.

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