The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Unisex Bathroom, Now Up and Running

Anna Lusson
The sign outside the new unisex bathroom

The bathroom located in the 2400 hallway has recently been converted from a females-only bathroom to a unisex bathroom. The layout of the bathroom remains the same, with two side-by-side stalls; however, all genders are now welcome to use it. This is the second one of its kind, as the first two unisex bathrooms are located above the auditorium and can be used by entering an access code.

The project to designate this a unisex bathroom was spearheaded by Assistant Director of Student Services, Dan Toy. He led a committee of staff members created to make sure that Niles West is adhering to the 2020 Illinois State Board of Education document titled: Transgender, Non-binary, Non-conforming, Non-regulatory Guidance Document for School. This committee, along with the plan to designate unisex bathrooms, led the movement to allow students to change their names on Canvas and/or Infinite Campus and create specialized forms for students to best support their needs

“The genesis of [the unisex bathrooms] was from this non-regulatory guidance document that started in 2020. It has sort of snowballed into groups discussing it, committee work and now you are seeing the actions in place to support our transgender, non-binary, non-conforming students,” Assistant Principal and Director of Student Services Antwan Babakhani said.

Senior Seb Stoeterau thinks the new bathroom designation is a step in the right direction for Niles West being an inclusive place.

“I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve gone to the bathrooms at West throughout my entire time here. I simply do not feel comfortable going into either bathroom without fearing getting ridiculed in some way, so having a gender-neutral option is greatly appreciated,” Stoeterau said. 

Junior Nichelle Thomas supports the idea of a unisex bathroom but would have preferred a different design.

“A stall bathroom, I think, would be better if it’s an all-gender bathroom, like a one-stall type of thing (with a lock). Because it’s uncomfortable if you walk in and you’re a girl and you see a guy there. I feel like [with a single-person bathroom] all genders could go in there and lock the bathroom and feel comfortable. The bathroom is a place where you’re supposed to feel comfortable and it’s supposed to be like a private area, so I feel like that would make it more private for anyone to use,” Thomas said.

Although inclusivity is the main purpose of the bathrooms, students are concerned that the bathroom may be misused or face repercussions.

“I hope the bathrooms are used for what they are and not just somewhere to hang out like many others. There are already so few of these locations that include everyone under the gender spectrum, so I hope they don’t get ruined by people taking advantage of the new space. It’s not like there’s another one within a reasonable distance,” Stoeterau said.

The committee currently in place is looking for more ways to make Niles West a more inclusive and accessible building. However, many factors play a part such as possible construction, the layout of the building, the cost and what powers are in charge of those decisions.

“I believe we should have facilities, spaces and areas where all of our students can access comfortably, and confidently, to access their education. The goal of public education is to provide access and opportunities to all students. Not just circularly, but spatially, the whole thing. The idea is when a student walks into school, are they feeling like they have complete access to their education, that their public dollars are funding? That’s the premise to all this,” Babakhani said. 

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