Why I changed the bathrooms at Tallwood

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Why I changed the bathrooms at Tallwood

Anastazy Maletz

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According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), gender dysphoria is a mental illness. This means that transgender individuals not only have to deal with a stigmatizing label, but can face serious side effects without proper treatment. However, treatment is rarely provided and often looked at as a joke. Therefore, the protection of transgender students is vital. There is no better way to protect our students than to make the scariest place the safest – The restroom.

The first step in a series of actions taken towards accessibility for transgender students was changing restroom signs to gender neutral. At Tallwood High School, there are eight single-stall locked restrooms available to students to use. These restrooms were revolutionary in that no other high school in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools system has single-stall restrooms for student use. However, these were still gendered restrooms. They were specifically labelled male and female, which left transgender students in a difficult situation. If the restroom they were comfortable using was occupied, they would be forced to make the decision of using the restroom they were uncomfortable with, they could go across the school to use the correct restroom, or take a five minute walk to the nurse’s office. All in all, this was a huge problem. Therefore, I changed the restrooms, with approval from the administration, to say gender neutral, enabling transgender students the ability to use safe restrooms.

The second part of my Senior Project action was a series of podcasts, currently still in the process of being recorded. They act as educational resources, able to be referenced when discussing transgender students. The primary goal of these is to provide firsthand information about transgender individuals, ranging from definitions of terms to correct procedures when addressing transgender individuals. Later episodes feature guest speakers such as fellow transgender students. These podcasts are also featured here in the Roaring Gazette, Tallwood’s newspaper (see below). This way, they can be easily accessible to those that need them.

While taking action within one’s own school is beneficial for the immediately affected students, the best way to make a lasting change is to address the government. By speaking at the school board meeting, directly speaking with school board members, we can ensure the safety of transgender students. Or, in the very least, the discussion can begin. This is ultimately the most important step: starting the discussion. By doing this, the subject of transgender students will remain in future discussions, and change can happen. The school board members were very receptive to the issues that were presented and gave plenty reassurance. In the future, transgender students will come up in school board meetings, and that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

These steps not only exponentially help transgender students currently in attendance, future students also have protection. This is vital for students, as one does not know they are transgender right at birth and therefore need time to grow and mature into who they are. This was the whole purpose of this series of actions: to allow room for discussion and growth, to strive for a better future–one where all, regardless of who they may be, are accepted.

Podcast Links:
Episode One: The Introduction
Episode Two: Safer and Supportive Classrooms

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