Gender neutral bathrooms established at WHS


Credit: Naomi Lathan

Pictured above is the temporary sign posted outside of the gender inclusive bathrooms in WHS’ English pod. Beginning this fall, students may use these bathrooms regardless of their gender identity. “[The change] has enjoyed so much support from so many different corners of campus,” principal Allyson Mizoguchi said.

Naomi Lathan

Over the summer, Wayland High School converted its English pod bathrooms from men’s and women’s to gender neutral. The idea originated with the WHS Alliance, and the change is meant to make sure that all students have a bathroom they feel comfortable using regardless of gender identity.

WHS’ Alliance, formerly known as the Gay-Straight Alliance, came up with the idea to establish a gender inclusive bathroom at Wayland High School last fall.

According to WHS principal Allyson Mizoguchi, the original proposal came from the Alliance and was then vetted by department chairs. The department leaders worked with members of the Alliance to create a plan for implementing the change. Faculty members Ken Rideout and Joanne Schmidt worked with members of the Alliance along with club advisor Naomi Rosenthal.

“The proposal was really around to make sure that there was a multi-stall student bathroom available for all students to use regardless of gender identity, so the details around which pod and how students would be notified about the change were vetted by faculty members,” Mizoguchi said.

There were unexpected delays over the summer, but the bathrooms are now gender inclusive. Signs outside of the bathrooms explain what the gender inclusive bathroom is, why it is there and where to find gender specific bathrooms elsewhere in the building.

The urinals in what was previously the men’s bathroom have been stalled off to protect the privacy of those who want to use the gender inclusive bathroom.

The addition of gender inclusive bathrooms follows Massachusetts state law, which now requires public schools to provide safe bathrooms which transgender students can comfortably use. Mizoguchi hopes the bathrooms will serve as a safe place for students of any gender identity.

The bathrooms in the English pod are the first stage of a two-step plan. If students agree with the change, the school administration may add gender inclusive bathrooms to the north building as well. School administrators and the WHS Alliance are now working towards having bathrooms in each building where everyone can feel comfortable.

The response to the change has been mostly positive both during the vetting process and since the implementation of the new bathrooms. Some parents, concerned about safety and privacy, disagreed, but according to Mizoguchi, they voiced their concerns in thoughtful and respectful ways.

Mizoguchi said she met with the most opposition when speaking to parents of students. She believes that because of the relatively small size of the WHS community, many of the issues surrounding gender inclusive bathrooms in public places don’t apply.

“[The change] has enjoyed so much support from so many different corners of campus,” Mizoguchi said. “I have confidence that it has been properly vetted, it has support and it is the right thing to do.”

WHS’ gender neutral bathrooms are located in the English pod on the first floor of the south building and are available for use by any member of the WHS community.