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Apr 5, 2016 1:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Gender-Neutral Restroom Provides Safe Space At East Hampton High School

East Hampton High School has installed a gender neutral restroom. KYRIL BROMLEY
Apr 5, 2016 3:47 PM

East Hampton High School made history last month as one of the first schools on Long Island to offer a gender-neutral restroom for students.

The single-stall, handicapped-accessible space, located just outside the school’s cafeteria, was converted from a female faculty restroom after two students pitched the idea to Principal Adam Fine at the beginning of the new year.

Gianna Gregorio, 15, of Montauk and Nicole Lockwood, 17, of Springs, who are both active members of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance—Gianna is the club’s president—said the club began to discuss the prospects of such a restroom during the 2014-15 school year.

“I created the presentation about a year ago, and I wanted to show it to Mr. Fine, but there was sort of a lack of communication,” Gianna said. “But we brought the idea back this year, we revamped it and met up with Mr. Fine … and now we have this awesome opportunity for those students who don’t feel comfortable with going into binary bathrooms.”

The term “binary” is defined as the classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. “Many trans kids and adults feel out of place when they need to use the restroom, because [they] may not identify with either gender or may be harassed when entering one or the other,” Gianna explained in her presentation.

“We’ve grown up with the idea that gender is a binary. You go to the toy store, and you see blue and pink. I worked in a toy store this summer, and even the parents are pushing that—but we can encourage the fact that gender is not a binary. That’s part of the reason we have this bathroom, for people who identify outside of it,” she said.

School social worker and GSA club adviser Barbara Boylan said that the restroom complements New York State’s Dignity For All Students Act that was passed last summer. “It protects kids who are gender non-conforming. They get to learn in a safe environment too. They’re not to be harassed,” said Ms. Boylan.

East Hampton High School currently has several students who have transitioned genders, she said. “Having access to a bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity, you have to have that available for them too. It’s near the cafeteria, so it’s a pretty good location.”

However, Gianna said that the restroom is not just for students and people “who identify outside the binary.”

“It’s for people who are disabled and have aides of a different gender, or are single parents with children of a different gender. Anyone can use it. That’s why it’s an all-gender bathroom,” she said.

And so far, the girls said, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. “A lot of the seniors have been super-excited about it. Even people who aren’t in the GSA are super-supportive,” said Nicole. “I’m just really glad that we have that kind of environment where we can have a gender-neutral bathroom and everyone is just like, ‘This is awesome. Cool.’ It’s just a great thing that we can add into our school, and a lot of kids think that.”

This is not the first time the East Hampton School District has made a revolutionary stride in terms of LBGT issues. According to Ms. Boylan, the middle school’s Gay Straight Alliance was the first middle school chapter to be formed in Suffolk County. The high school chapter has been running for about 12 years now, she said.

“Studies have shown, too, that even kids who don’t participate in the club, who are gay or not gay, get a lot of satisfaction knowing that one is acceptable in our school and is celebrated and it’s okay. Just the fact that we have one is important.”

Gianna said that although the club isn’t huge in numbers—there are about 15 regular members—the group has a large presence in the school and community with events like National Coming Out Day in the fall, when they pass out rainbow ribbons and National Day of Silence next week where students and staff take a vow of silence from first period to the last period of the day.

The high school also staged a production of Jonathan Larson’s rock-opera “Rent” earlier this year, which is well-known for its exploration of issues within the LBGT community, including a gender non-conforming character. Both Gianna and Nicole participated in the show as members of the ensemble and said that the show exhibited the school and the community’s progressive nature.

“We’re so lucky to live in a community that will take that well. If we were living in a place that was more conservative that might not have been taken as well,” said Gianna.

“We might not have been able to contemplate doing it,” Nicole added.

Ms. Boylan said a lot of the revolutionary steps the district has made can be attributed to the administration.

“I can’t say enough about the administration, too. They’re just awesome,” said Ms. Boylan. “Whenever there’s any kind of transgression against LBGT people, they’re right on it. They’re quick to really extinguish any behavior like that.”

While the addition of the gender-neutral restroom is a start, Gianna said that eventually they would like to provide gender-neutral restrooms all over the school.

“I think the question really is, why wouldn’t we have gender-neutral bathrooms? Because it’s not like they’re inhibiting anyone from going to the bathroom, but it’s helping a lot of people,” she said.

“I had a lot of people come to me, like, ‘Is the bathroom open, Gianna? Can I go to the bathroom yet?’ That really puts a smile on my face, and I know that we as a group have done well.”

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Politically correct heros...... not
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 6, 16 8:45 AM
Do you feel good about yourself for insulting children who are trying to do a good thing? Grow up, man.
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Apr 6, 16 9:06 AM
If this is the future it is going to be pretty sad one. Safe space, micro-aggression, and trigger words are all now part of our lexicon all because of cultural collapse and societal decline. When are they going to have a special bathroom for the he/she/it who thinks they are a giraffe? Can they share with the one who thinks they are a car?

America: 1776 to 2016, R.I.P.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Apr 6, 16 9:16 AM
Careful, your ignorance is showing
By Polandspring (96), Southampton on Apr 6, 16 12:50 PM
Remind us again. Why is this your second profile here at 27east?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 6, 16 9:59 PM
Careful I could care less what you think.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Apr 7, 16 6:55 AM
You "couldn't" care less.
By Polandspring (96), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 9:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Apr 8, 16 6:39 AM
If you are going to be a stickler you grammar and punctuation, perhaps you should first end your sentences with a period.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 8, 16 6:47 AM
When one word changes the entire meaning of a sentence, it's not being a grammar Nazi...it's just being right.

By Polandspring (96), Southampton on Apr 8, 16 7:16 AM
Careful, your hypocrisy is showing.

By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Apr 8, 16 12:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
The result of political indoctrination by teachers to promote self destructive behavior. More time on academics and less on politics is needed.
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Apr 6, 16 9:35 AM
Great job but I need to ask, Why cant we just have a bathroom? Why do we have to label it anything other than a restroom? We are creating more issues with all these labels. Its a toilet with a sink in a room....that's it
By MACK (50), Southampton on Apr 6, 16 12:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Possibly for the same reasons there are boys and girls locker rooms?

I'm trying to fathom why we even have to explain that...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 6, 16 10:01 PM
I'm all for everyone's rights. People say they don't what labels but they want their own bathroom, which is basically putting a label on them. It's real simple, if you have a male organ you go in the men's room. If you have a female organ you go in the woman's room. Sorry hope I didn't offend anyone.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Apr 6, 16 2:42 PM
3 members liked this comment
People want to feel equal, but have no problem asking for things that make them feel above everyone. Sorry my hero's are protecting our well being not making a place to pee.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 6, 16 5:08 PM
2 members liked this comment
This bathroom & story was hi-jacked by a LGBT group to push their agenda rather than what it was designed for. Why would a LGBT have anything to say about a gender neutral rest room? This is just proof what is wrong with us. This is only a bathroom so get over it..
By GerryBayz (13), Hampton Bays on Apr 6, 16 8:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
I suppose there will be gender neutral locker rooms soon
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 6:26 AM
Err.. that's a Unisex bathroom. We've had them forever. It's not "gender neutral" in the sense that is causing waves in the news. I think it's a good solution to the problem, but lets not make it out to be anything more than what it really is.. a unisex bathroom.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 6:32 AM
2 members liked this comment
Schools are full speed ahead with the leftist agenda.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Apr 7, 16 7:14 AM
I applaud Easthampton School ! They clearly care about the well being an mental health of their students. Too many young ppl have taken or attempted to take their own lives from being bullied in school. This is about protecting young people from the torment of being different.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 8, 16 4:00 PM
Why? Bullies can't follow them into the bathroom?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Apr 8, 16 8:24 PM
So a girl will be going to the bathroom while a boy is in the stall next to hers??I mean , this is just asking for trouble. Get a grip man. If you have certain parts than you are a certain sex, Its not about what your sexual preference is. This is gross.
By Hank1 (20), Sag Harbor on Apr 8, 16 7:26 PM
And my point exactly....grown adults passing judgement on teenagers . Now imagine your are back in high school , your a football jock ....how you would react to a gay classmate using the urinal next to you? Its apparent how you would respond to this. A gender neutral bathroom removes the discomfort for those who are uncomfortable with sharing facilities. And it not about just being bullied in the bathroom, think about it! Im not gay, just open minded and excepting.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 8, 16 10:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By loading... (601), quiogue on Apr 13, 16 11:51 AM