Gender-neutral restrooms arrive at La Jolla’s high schools

A state law requiring all single-stall public restrooms be designated “gender neutral” went into effect March 1 and high schools in the 92037 ZIP code were quick to comply. Restrooms with numerous stalls that can be used by more than one person aren’t included in the California law.

The Bishop’s School (7607 La Jolla Blvd.), home to 800 students in grades 6-12, has a total of five gender-neutral restrooms. “We support transgender students as we support all of our students,” wrote public relations director Suzanne Weiner in an e-mail. “We continue to consider how Bishop’s can be a safe environment for all of our students.”

With a student body of nearly 1,150 — from age 3 to grade 12 — La Jolla Country Day School (9490 Genesee Ave.) told La Jolla Light all the single stall restrooms within the premises are gender neutral, but didn’t provide a specific number.

“Our students have the right to choose the bathroom consistent with their gender identity,” wrote Jennifer Fogarty, assistant director of marketing. She added that the school strives to create and implement policies and practices supportive of the students. “As shared by our Head of School to the community recently, ‘We are steadfast in our commitment to creating a gender-inclusive world for all people.’ ”

Officials at La Jolla High School (750 Nautilus St.) said at least eight restrooms within the school are available to all genders. The 1,550 students, grades 9-12, who attend the 14.4-acre campus enjoy a gender-neutral restroom outside of every multi-stall public bathroom.

“We are concerned about everyone’s safety and everyone being treated fairly and we don’t allow any intolerance, “ said school nurse Kori King. “The goal of the school is to keep all of our students safe.”

Muirlands Middle School assistant principal Brenda Montgomery said providing gender neutral restrooms “has not been an issue at this point in time.” She assured that the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) hadn’t brought it up yet, but “we’re prepared to make sure that every student has the same opportunities. We will address that issue and comply with all the laws as soon as we are required to, and make sure all our students are safe.”

SDUSD policy allows students to use the restroom “that corresponds to their gender identity exclusively and consistently asserted at school,” according to its Nondiscrimination of Transgender Students administrative procedure. “Where available, a single stall restroom may be used by any student who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason,” the document explains.

The implementation of the gender-neutral public restroom state law comes at a political moment when transgender student advocates are preparing to fight the federal administration, which recently rescinded a directive specifying that transgender students have the right to use the public restroom matching their gender identity.

Congress member Susan Davis (D-San Diego) led a Democratic effort within the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee of the House urging new Education Secretary Betsy Devos to protect transgender students, and 13 Congressional representatives signed a letter directed to the federal education administration.

“We recommend that you convene groups of State and District leaders to discuss best practices for supporting transgender students, provide resources for school employees that detail how they can create inclusive environment, and highlight examples of schools that implement these best practices effectively,” reads the letter, sent Friday, March 3.