Written By: Catalina Zhao
The School Success and Opportunity Act has been well received by transgender students. “I was hoping it would pass,” an anonymous transgender Gunn student said. “If you’re transgender, you can use the bathroom that corresponds to your gender, not your sex, and you can play on a sport team that corresponds and use the locker room that corresponds. I think it is really good, but honestly it isn’t going to affect me that much personally.” The student believes that the legislation is important to “stealth students,” whom others do not know are transgender. Regardless, the School Success and Opportunity Act may have larger implications for the stalled plans Gunn has to accommodate transgender students.
In January 2013, Gunn admin discussed having unisex bathrooms on campus for transgender students, with math teacher Daisy Renazco, band teacher Todd Summers and Assistant Principal of Facilities Kim Cowell working on the project. “Gunn is trying to be proactive,” Renazco said. “We understand that we have transgender students on campus and in the district, and it might be uncomfortable for them to go into group bathrooms.”
A few unisex bathrooms exist on campus, but they are off limits to students. One of the staff unisex restrooms by the senior quad was meant for student use, but it is impossible for transgender students to receive a key. If the bathroom is open, then there is the risk of students locking themselves in or trapping others. The school is considering locking the door from the inside and having the green “vacant” and red “in use” sign to monitor bathroom use.
In addition to the unisex bathrooms, Gunn has discussed how to create a gender-neutral changing space in the locker rooms, but these plans have also stalled. “It comes down to where do we want that space to be, how will they be monitored,” Renazco said. “These have to be continued conversations, but they’re not happening.”
The roadblock to carrying out these plans is the insufficiency of information about what Gunn could do for both these situations. The plans must comply with the Education Code and district policy, but the district’s lack of action prevents Gunn from moving forward. “We’ve not had a district policy around unisex bathrooms, so I have been trying for several months to get information about what we can do and what we’re allowed to do,” Cowell said. “I have asked the District to find out what is legal through the district attorneys.” The Gunn administration is now waiting for the district to specify any limitations. “It’s not that the district isn’t supportive—it just doesn’t feel like a priority for them,” Renazco said. “They’re pushing back but they’re not helping us brainstorm ways to make this a reality.” It is unknown when and how the plans will be completed.
Much-needed support recently came in the form of the School Success and Opportunity Act. The law may not be the reason behind the proposed ideas, but Gunn hopes that it will be a catalyst for completing the plans for unisex bathrooms and gender-neutral changing spaces. However, the act has not defined rules about what schools could do. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop,” Cowell said. “We’re going to continue and push our plans.” Gunn is waiting for the District’s examination of the legislation so they can ensure the plans adhere to it. According to Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Charles Young, “the District strives to ensure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable on all our campuses. [It is] looking into the details of the new legislation and discussing best practices to ensure successful application.”
Despite what the district does in response to the School Success and Opportunity Act and when it gives Gunn the necessary information, this legislation supports Gunn’s acceptance and its diversity. “The measures we’re taking and this act fit right along into Gunn culture and what we want to do,” Renazco said. “We’re thankful for this. We were already trying to do what we can to protect transgender students, and now we have more protection from the law.”