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High School Students Defend All-Gender Bathroom Against Protestors

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Students rally to shut down protests over a new gender neutral bathroom

A large crowd of students gathered outside of Santee Education Complex today in support of their right to use the bathroom. Specifically, the new all-gender bathroom the school opened last week. The high school, just south of Downtown, opened the first gender neutral restroom in the Los Angeles Unified School District this past Friday. According to the LA Times, the Gay Straight Alliance student group collected 700 signatures from students and staff members on a petition calling for the new restroom. Opening up facilities to all genders expands on current LAUSD policy that allows students to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender they identify with. These policies are aimed at creating a more inclusive environment for transgender teens.

As the LA Times reports, protestors from a group called the Official Street Preachers assembled across the street from the school on Tuesday evening. The group denounced both the bathroom and LGBT students with the help of signs and a loudspeaker. Several students threw objects at the protestors, inciting a confrontation that ended with protestors choosing to leave the site. On Wednesday evening, a former teacher organized a rally with support from activist group Union del Barrio to visibly offset the protestors. Many students and community members joined in the demonstration, showing support for the new policies.

LAUSD has made bold steps for inclusivity of LGBT issues in the past. In 2011, then-board member, now board president Steve Zimmer introduced a resolution to make the contributions of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals mandatory in school curriculum. In 2013, LAUSD became the first school district to change their curriculum to accommodate the FAIR Act, developing and implementing a curriculum with the help of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives and Project Spin (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now). The project was funded by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.

Meanwhile, controversy over bathroom restrictions is erupting throughout the country. A new North Carolina law requiring residents to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender at birth has created outrage and caused prominent musical acts like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam to cancel concerts in the state. On the flip side of things, West Hollywood passed a law earlier this year requiring gender neutrality in all single stall restrooms. It seems the war over the nation's bathrooms is just beginning. Judging by the recent events at Santee Educational Complex, L.A.'s youth are eager to be part of the fight.