Gender-Neutral Bathroom Implemented at THS


Erin Hong, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As of this school year, a gender-neutral bathroom has been installed at Tenafly High School. All students and staff, regardless of their gender identities, may use the bathroom.

Ms. Schmarge, the advisor of the Gay Straight Alliance at THS, explained the need for a gender-neutral bathroom in schools. “Students who are part of the LGBTQ+ community often do not feel comfortable using their gender-assigned bathrooms,” she said. “Gender-neutral bathrooms give them an opportunity to have the privacy and dignity that they deserve, as something as simple as going to the ladies’ room is a huge thing that cisgendered people take for granted.”

Although society is becoming more and more accepting of identities beyond the gender binary, there are still various clashes of opinions as well as a clear societal mold regarding gender identity. “What if you don’t fit into that mold? Going to the bathroom is a basic human need and nobody should be deprived of that,” Schmarge said. “That’s why there is the rule of ‘one person at a time.’ Because it’s a one-person bathroom, you wouldn’t want a group of people standing around outside of your stall. Because the overall goal of these bathrooms is comfort and discretion, you can’t have a lot of people in there at the same time.” 

“Gender-neutral bathrooms are necessary for those who are not cisgender and feel more comfortable using these types of bathrooms,” Guy Persitz (’25) added. “However, I do think that people are starting to use them for the wrong reasons, as they are often being crowded.”

True enough, students have started to treat the bathroom as a hang-out spot. For reasons such as this, teachers take shifts to sit outside of the bathroom to make sure that only one person is in there at a time. Oftentimes, teachers must stop from entering the new gender-neutral bathroom those groups of students who want to camp out in there. To students who are unaware of the purpose of this bathroom, this may come off as something negative. 

Eunhye Choi (’22) acknowledge that, in the beginning, she wasn’t aware of the purpose of the bathroom in front of the principal’s office. “I thought it was a hindrance to students because it only permitted one person at a time. In the past, I never really stopped to think about why the bathroom even existed. However, now that I’m aware of the deeper purpose behind it, I firmly believe that more people should know about it and should support it.” 

Ultimately, the bathrooms represent the bigger goal of acceptance. “The bathroom is designated for students affected by the issue of gender identity,” Schmarge explained. “There are so many students who don’t even know this bathroom exists. If you don’t know that it exists, how are you supposed to benefit from it? Although the concept of gender-neutral bathrooms may be a bit unfamiliar to students and staff right now, hopefully, there will be more additions to these bathrooms in the future years.”

For some, it is very easy to forget the existence and the purpose of our gender-neutral bathroom. Most people pass by it without a second thought, too busy with their own schedules to pay attention. Ms. Schmarge encourages students and staff to recognize and be aware of this bathroom, as it could very well serve as a representation of Tenafly’s acceptance and openness.