Why Are The Unisex Bathrooms Being Locked?


Leven Petersen

Picture of Uni-sex restroom with nobody in it.

Leven Petersen, Staff Writer

Back in 2014, unisex restrooms started to become a more popular. Places like Portland, Austin and Washington D.C. all became major cities where these bathrooms were required by law to have. Unisex bathrooms are not just a place for people of different gender to go, they are a place where everybody can go to do what they please such as use the restroom, have a conversation in a quiet place, or just be left alone. The school has recently had some problems with unisex restrooms such as them being locked or vandalized. Makenna Pauley ’21 had just got done with a presentation in art class that was stressful.”I felt stressed, I didn’t know where to go,”  Pauley said. “I think I did pretty good on it, but I felt like I needed some time to be alone, some space where it was just me.”

She walked out of class to use the auditorium restroom, but there were already people in there. “They were being loud and it really sucked,” Pauley said. “I just wanted to be some place quiet where I could sit on my phone for a little bit.”

She walked out of the restroom to try and use the unisex bathroom next to her, yet it was locked. “I didn’t wanna go anywhere, I just wanted to sit and breakdown,” Pauley said.

She kept walking and went to the bathroom near the library. “I had just walked in, I sat down and just felt relief,” Pauley said. ”I felt so much better, it’s just such a hassle that I had to walk so much farther than I needed to.”

There are 14 unisex bathrooms in the school,  and half are either locked or hidden well. Everyone knows about the six restrooms next to the multiple stall bathrooms in the commons. There is also a bathroom near the library, one near the auditorium (which is sometimes locked and sometimes not), one at the very back of the lunch line, and four in the gym. The two downstairs bathrooms are unlocked and the two upstairs bathrooms are locked. However, one of the bathrooms located right next to both the bigger boys and girls locker rooms needs a key card to be unlocked. Only teachers and administrators are able to use those restrooms, as those are actually teacher bathrooms. The last bathroom is located in the nurses office, but the nurse sometimes lets kids use it.

School administration had to consider how many students would use a unisex bathroom when building the new high school. “When we are making the building, we ask the architects to make different bathrooms for kids who don’t feel super comfortable about their identity,” Superintendent Laura Kacer said.

Some people may say we do not have enough bathrooms in the school, others say we do. “I wasn’t here when we were building the school, but I really think that the bathroom placements are good,” Principal Ryan Woods said. “There’s always gonna be some problems with the uni-sex bathrooms. That’s why the auditorium bathroom is locked during school hours.” Locking the bathrooms during school hours is pointless.  The reason the auditorium bathroom is locked is because there were “problems” with students using the restroom for other reasons. Locking this bathroom or any other isn’t going to stop students.

Some students do not feel comfortable using the regular bathrooms. They have to find specific times throughout the day use the bathroom so that people do not follow them in or sometimes people just do not feel comfortable with people around. “If I can’t use one of the unisex bathrooms because they are locked I have to plan out when nobody’s in the hall and what class I am that is near a bathroom, just so that I don’t get dirty looks,” said Avery Eschliman 20′ “I know administration can’t really do anything about the things that are happening but they could at least try, they can’t just lock these bathrooms because some kids use these things for serious things.

Garrick slings decided to use a restroom to go to the bathroom. He went to one of the stalls and minded his own business until someone decided to jump and look over the stall “I felt so exposed, I didn’t know what to do,” Slings ’21 “Just so something like that didn’t happen I decided to not use the school bathrooms at all… until last year I started using the unisex bathrooms. But it’s really a pain to have to walk farther than I would usually have to if they are locked or someone is in them.” This would be another reason for why the doors should not be locked, it helps kids use the restroom and be more secluded.

It would be greatly appreciated by students at Johnston High school if the administration took a different approach to locking different unisex bathrooms for problems that could be solved differently.