TPHS to construct all-gender bathrooms on campus

The first all-gender bathrooms at TPHS will be available to students on campus, likely in two years, according to TPHS Principal Robert Coppo.

While the bathrooms are still in the planning process, Coppo has proposed six revised facilities including two in the main quad, two by the locker rooms and two in the football stadium. All-gender restrooms can be used by anyone regardless of their gender expression or identity.

Coppo’s blueprint involves a complete redesign of multiple existing restrooms on campus, including the bathrooms in the main quad.

“We’re looking at making them more retrofit,” Coppo said. “If it means blowing the staff restrooms out completely and carving a pathway leading to the stalls, it wouldn’t be that difficult.”

Some restrooms will not be changed, including those located in front of the gym and in the B Building.

“Every student deserves to be valued and respected, to have a private bathroom, regardless if they are straight, gay or trans,” Coppo said.

Coppo’s purpose for adding all-gender bathrooms on campus resonates with Syd Nauss (12), a gender non-conforming student.

“Even though it seems like such a small thing, it’s vital to make students feel heard, seen, recognized and cared about at school,” Nauss said.

Many students have voiced their support for the idea. The TPHS Gender Sexuality Alliance sent an email to Coppo and spoke with him about constructing all-gender bathrooms earlier this year.

“I’m glad to see that [Coppo] got back to us recently and is working with us to create a more inclusive, supportive school,” Xan Spitsberg (11), a member of the GSA, said.

According to a 2021 national survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 45% of LGBTQ+ K-12 students reported avoiding school bathrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

These feelings are also prevalent among some TPHS students.

“I feel out of place whether the bathroom I’m in says ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ on the door … during the day I tend to avoid the bathroom at all costs,” Nauss said. “No matter where I go, I know I’m not in the right place, so [an all-gender bathroom] would be really amazing to see sooner rather than later.”

Bri Cathcart (10), a non-binary student, agreed.

“Torrey Pines really prides itself on inclusion, and having a gender-neutral bathroom would be more of an act rather than just words,” Cathcart said.

“It would take a lot of anxiety away from having to use a bathroom, which is just such a vital part of every single day.”

While California requires schools to have some form of an all-gender bathroom, it does not regulate how campuses provide them.

At TPHS, students are allowed to use single-stall staff restrooms, which are required to be gender-neutral by the California Health and Safety Code. These can be found in multiple spots around campus, including the nurse’s office, counseling center and administration building.

Despite these positive projections, there are still concerns.

“Inevitably, people are going to take advantage of it and turn it into something bad,” Nauss said “Especially with all of the hate speech and rhetoric and hate symbols on the bathroom walls last year, there’s definitely the danger of people taking it as just another avenue to be hateful toward queer students.”

While some students are wary of the potential misuse of all-gender bathrooms on campus, Coppo believes that they are a step in the right direction.

“The more we talk about [hate] and confront it, the less likely anything will happen,” Coppo said. “We want Torrey to continue to be a No Place For Hate zone. That’s why the TP pledge is so important; it reminds us to take pride in each other, no matter how we identify.”

Even though Nauss, Spitsberg and Cathcart will have graduated by the time the new bathrooms are fully opened to students, they still see them as an advancement toward the support of students and staff on campus.

“After all, it’s not a bathroom only for trans people,” Cathcart said. “It’s just a bathroom that includes them.”

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