As of the 2018-2019 school year, Nantucket High School now has access to two designated gender-neutral bathrooms located in the Cyrus Peirce Middle School cafeteria. The bathrooms receiving this recognition both remain single-use, however the stigma and exclusivity that had come with using these previously binary male/female bathrooms has changed dramatically.
Last school year, the three single-use bathrooms in the main building of Nantucket High School were converted into gender-neutral bathrooms. In prior years, these three bathrooms had largely been considered to be “staff-only”. In total, there are now five gender-neutral bathrooms available to students within the school.
The decision to make the switch from binary to gender-neutral in the cafeteria was first proposed to administration by class of 2020 junior, James Holmes. Holmes, who is openly agender, does not associate themself with one particular gender identity, and thus goes by the singular pronouns they/them/theirs.
Holmes speaks on behalf of the agender community in saying that the binary classification when using male/female bathrooms has made, “a lot of non-binary students [feel] left in the background, and… not really represented in their schools.”
Holmes had felt scared at the idea of using any of the conventional bathrooms within the school, even recalling having to, “wait as long as possible to go to the bathroom every single day,” and that, “it was really painful.” They says that this simple, yet meaningful transformation is long overdue.
Several transgender students at Nantucket High School have also come forward to voice their opinions, including class of 2021 sophomore, Garroth Wheeler. Garroth uses the pronouns he/him/his, and says that he always uses the gender-neutral bathrooms. Garroth is prevented from using the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity, as he would find himself, “worried about what other students may think if they walk in.”
This is in no way meant to cast blame on the administration. Garroth goes on to say that the school is, “trying their best,” when it comes to the issue of bullying and discrimination regarding bathrooms. A large part of this harassment is accredited to an immutable quality of intolerance and resistance towards change among some people within the school, which can not really be helped.
In a 2015 report published by the United States Transgender Survey, 77% of transgender youth in grades kindergarten through twelfth have experienced some form of mistreatment, whether it be verbal, physical, or sexual. A slightly more shocking number reveals that an incredible 17% of students have had to leave a school due to severe mistreatment as a transgender person.
Class of 2020 junior, Peter Bulger, also identifies as transgender and goes by the pronouns he/him/his. A supporter of the gender-neutral bathrooms, Peter says that although, “most trans people would rather use the bathroom of the gender they identify with… some people would not feel safe in that situation. For those people… gender-neutral bathrooms are a good alternative.”
Agreeing with Garroth, Peter believes that there is, “only so much [the school] can do.” He believes that the school is not entirely immune from mistreatment, but the strides that have been made on behalf of administration have shown the accommodation for this representative group of students.
- Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
- Trevor Lifeline: (866) 488-7386
- TrevorText: “Trevor” to (202) 304-1200
By Skylar Kardell