Los Angeles

LAUSD's First Gender-Neutral Bathroom Opens at South LA High School

Students of different genders will now be able to use the same bathroom at Santee Education Complex, the first school in the Los Angeles Unified School District to open such facility.

The 15-stall bathroom opened Friday at the high school just south of downtown Los Angeles, school officials announced.

"It was important for me and students to have a safe space on campus," said Alonzo Hernandez, a student at Santee. "There are [students] out there who are transitioning who don't identify themselves as a gender."

Santee will continue to have gender specific bathrooms, but the girl's facility on the second floor has had its sign changed to reflect it is now gender-neutral. This bathroom was chosen because it has multiple stalls with locks, school officials said.

The change at Santee comes as the White House announced it has designated a gender-neutral bathroom for visitors and staffers, the latest in a series of steps the administration has taken to protect the rights of members of the LGBT community.

However, state legislatures differ across the country. In North Carolina, a recent law restricts which public restrooms transgender Americans are able to use. Similar legislation also circulated in South Dakota.

For students at Santee High, the shift was important because many say they don't feel comfortable using the gender-binary bathrooms. Students in the school's Gay Straight Alliance Club have been working on the "It's just a Toilet" campaign since January, according to Jose Lara, the group's advisor. Students collected over 700 petition signatures, made classroom presentations, held a rally at the school and met with the broader school community to push for the shift.

While some concerns have been raised around safety, school officials say the response has been "overwhelmingly positive."

On Thursday, students unveiled a safety plan for the bathroom that has been approved by the school's principal. Plans include having campus aides monitor all bathooms at the school, officials said.

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