Montclair, New Jersey, has rolled out the new school year with gender-neutral restrooms in each of their schools.
Starting last year, only the high school had a gender-neutral restroom, but now every school in Montclair will have at least one restroom dedicated to students of all genders, regardless of how they identify.
Parents were just informed of the new gender-inclusive bathrooms in a general housekeeping email that was sent out at the end of August.
“Historically, restrooms have been a place for harassment, discrimination and threats of injury and assault towards transgender people. All-gender restrooms provide an opportunity for our community members to enter a room without being questioned or interrogated,” an email to Glenfield parents from Principal Anthony Grosso stated.
A law signed by Gov. Christie Chris in July of 2017, gives protection for all transgender students who attend schools in New Jersey. With the passage of the legislation, schools are not allowed to force transgender students to use any restroom that conflicts with the gender that the student identifies as.
Schools are required to provide “reasonable alternative arrangements to ensure a student’s safety and comfort,” with not only restrooms, but also locker room facilities, the law reads.
The law also requires that all students be addressed by the name and pronoun they prefer. In addition, all students are to be allowed to dress in attire they prefer and to take physical education classes that match their identity, rather than the sex they’re born with.
Some of Montclair’s all-gender restrooms would be single-stall, but others would have multi-stalls.
“The type of restroom will be contingent of the school — meaning schools with more restrooms can transform a multi-stall restroom into an all gender restroom. Others may have to use a single stall restroom. Our mature facilities present some challenges that we are simply working through as thoughtfully as we can,” Superintendent Kendra Johnson said. Due to the age of some of Montclair’s buildings, the district has opted to designate certain already existing restrooms as gender neutral.
School staff in Montclair have received professional training on the gender-neutral restrooms and students’ needs, including having staff meet with consultants from Hudson Pride and Garden State Equality.
A group of Montclair High School students, out of concern for transgender students and their needs, launched a petition on Change.org in 2016 that called for gender-neutral restrooms at the school. In response, Ronald Bolandi, then-Interim Superintendent, sent a letter to parents that affirmed the district’s policy on providing the gender-equal restrooms and locker facilities for students.
Montclair State University’s LGBTQ Center’s website states their bathroom policy as: “Montclair State University students, faculty, staff, employees and guests have the right to use restrooms that most closely corresponds to their gender identity regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Individuals who need or desire increased privacy are encouraged to access a single-stall all gender restroom, when available. No individual at Montclair State University shall be required to use single-stall all gender restroom.”
They also have a locker room policy: “Montclair State University students, faculty, staff, employees and guests have the right to use locker rooms that most closely correspond to their gender identity regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Individuals who need or desire increased privacy can be provided with a reasonable alternative changing area such as the use of a private area or single-stall restroom, if available. Any alternative arrangements requested by transgender individuals will be provided in a manner that maintains the confidentiality of their transgender status.”
The website also mentions that all new buildings will be required to include gender-neutral bathrooms, “Thanks to the President’s Commission on Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, and Diversity, all newly constructed buildings will also include gender inclusive restrooms.”
Join the conversation!
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.