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Vashon Island High School opens all gender restrooms

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. – Vashon Island High School is one of the first public schools in the nation to convert a pair of traditional restrooms into an “all gender restroom.”

The Vashon Island School District said in a press release that the decision came in a response to members of the student body and the Queer Spectrum Alliance.

“Segregated bathrooms are often spaces where transgender and gender nonconforming students are met with intimidation, harassment, and bullying,” the district wrote.

The school unveiled the two new restrooms on Tuesday as students came back after winter break.

The district said this can lead to health problems, as students who don’t feel comfortable using the bathroom might choose to either not eat or drink all day, or to “hold it” rather than risk going to the bathroom.

“Making bathrooms all-gender is the safest and clearest way to prevent students from having to explain or justify their bathroom use to anyone else,” said Principal Danny Rock. “It’s something none of us should ever have to endure.”

The district sent out an announcement to students, parents, faculty, and staff.  District Superintendent Michael Soltman said they have only received positive feedback, so far.

The school will still have gender-specific restrooms, but any student -- transgender or not can use the new all-gender restrooms.

"The important thing is that there are equally accessible options for everyone," states a FAQs sheet which was sent out alongside the original press release.

"An all-gender restroom is a restroom that anyone of any gender can use. These restrooms can benefit many different people, including parents with differently gendered children, alter-abled people who may require the accompaniment of an attendant of a different gender, and trans and gender nonconforming people," the FAQ reads.

Several schools in Seattle have already added gender-neutral bathrooms.