Gains in Representation

PCH begins construction of a gender neutral restroom


Sam Brown (10) began attending GSA meetings a few weeks into the school year after his initial plan to hide being transgender. Brown has since became a driving force in the administration’s final push to construct a gender neutral bathroom. Photo by Ellie Sioumcas.

Emma Li, Features Editor

After the completion of the outdoor concession stands and restrooms, the latest project involves redoing the restrooms at the top of the upper commons and by the theater, as well as building a new hall through the PE locker rooms to lead into a gender neutral restroom. Although there have been unofficial gender neutral restrooms, such as the one at the nurse, this would be the first restroom in Parkway built expressly for this purpose.

“There’s an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) bathroom at Parkway South that they’re using in a sort of similar way,” Assistant Principal Travis Fast said. “It’s got plenty of room for wheelchairs, and someone in the facilities staff told me that that’s what they were using as a gender neutral space.”

Conversations began before COVID-19 about constructing a gender neutral bathroom, and the idea was revived last fall. Sam Brown (10) transferred to PCH from Rockwood due to transphobic bullying, and began advocating for trans students after similar experiences yet again. 

“I was harassed in the male’s bathroom, so I went to a counselor and asked, ‘is there a gender neutral bathroom here?’” Brown said. “When I came here I wanted to hide it to avoid the bullying, but I saw someone else with a pride pin. I thought, ‘that’s a person I can go to if I need help,’ and I realized I want to be that person. I want to help make a change at PCH, and so I’m working with the counselors and GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) to see if we can try to find a way to make it more inclusive for everybody.”

Mars Kavadlo (9) joined GSA at the beginning of the year, and has experienced a similar push from the students to make this school safer for minorities.

“I feel that all the people in GSA have been very welcoming and they’ve definitely created a space where I feel safe expressing myself and my beliefs,” Kavadlo said.

Students in GSA participate in a variety of activities, from making posters of transgender celebrities, to assessing what students want to see in a gender neutral restroom. The students at GSA aim to reach beyond advocacy and into action due to their shared experiences.

“I’ve opened up to using the restroom more because I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t care,” Kavadlo said. “But, I remember at the beginning of the year I felt really scared, because every time I entered a bathroom I thought people were going to judge me. I had to spend a long time in the bathroom because I’d have to go to the nurse’s office and go in there. I know a lot of students feel like they don’t have a place where they can just go to the restroom and feel comfortable, and I feel like that’s an important thing for anyone to have.”

With an entirely new bathroom, students have been considering what they would need to be properly accessible to everyone. 

“It would be nice to have gender neutral menstrual products for everyone and multiple stalls so that it’s not a line,” Brown said. “GSA wants to make affirmative posters, just like nice pride posters or something like that, something like a genuinely nice space.”

Regardless, the new facility would definitely have support.

“It’d probably be the only restroom I feel comfortable using,” Brown said.

After the administration abandoned talks about converting a library bathroom, they have begun to rework some of the plumbing in the ceilings near the P.E. locker rooms for preparation. The work will go on all summer, and plans to open this fall.

“You shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable where to go to just go to the bathroom,” Brown said. “You shouldn’t have to worry about that kind of stuff.”

Sam Friedman (11) sits in on a GSA meeting on Sept. 23, 2021. “My favorite part of GSA is how welcoming and accepting everyone is. It’s a great environment and one I enjoy to be in,” Friedman said. “I think the fact that we’re getting a gender neutral bathroom is great. It is a very important thing to have, and I’m glad we’re finally getting one.” Photo by Ellie Sioumcas.