New Gender-Neutral Bathrooms at Tam


Gender-neutral bathroom outside Ruby Gym courtesy of Nathan Robinson

By Lauren Felder, Editor-in-Chief

Tamalpais High School announced the re-assignment of four gender-neutral bathrooms via a map in the leadership slideshow on Aug. 26. The map initially came from an email sent from Principal J.C. Farr to staff members at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. 

“At Tam High, we create welcoming and inclusive spaces for our students. We promote facilities that are physically accessible (ADA compliant) and open to people of any gender identification,” the email stated.  

The newly assigned bathrooms are distributed evenly throughout the school. There is one on the second floor of Wood Hall, one between the wood shop and ceramics building, one on the first floor of Palmer Hall, and lastly one outside of Ruby Scott gym. The Ruby Scott restroom is labeled “all gender” with multiple stalls, an inclusive design new to Tam’s campus. The other three gender-neutral restrooms are single-stalled, offering another level of privacy. 

While the Wood Hall restroom has been available as a gender-neutral space in previous years, it wasn’t always an easily accessible option. “There were a lot of times when students came into wellness and said that it was locked so I would send them to the front office to get it unlocked. It’s unfortunate that it was like that,” Sophia Kauffman, wellness outreach specialist, said. 

This restroom being locked was a common concern amongst students last year and has been brought to light in recent conversations due to the newly accessible additional gender-neutral bathrooms. “Before [the gender-neutral bathroom] wasn’t accessible to a lot of people and there would be a big line all of the time … the passing period just isn’t that long,” sophomore Leo De La Huelga said. De La Huelga hopes that these new restrooms remain unlocked throughout the school day, like the rest of Tam’s bathrooms.

Reactions to the gender-neutral restrooms have overall been positive, particularly among Tam’s nonbinary and transgender student body. “I find it great, like it’s very good to see, especially the one that’s more towards the P.E. area. It has lockers in it, so I assume it’s probably also used as a gender-neutral locker room if needed. Although I’ve not seen any of the lockers really look like they’re being used,” junior Olivine Bues said. 

According to a research report from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, nearly two-thirds of transgender students avoid bathrooms due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. Recognizing this data, Kauffman is one of many advocates for our new gender-neutral bathrooms. “I think it’s so important that everyone has a space where they can fulfill basic human needs on campus. And also, I think just in general in the world, we need more gender-neutral bathrooms,” Kauffman said. “[Gender-neutral bathrooms] help alleviate more problems besides, you know, feeling uncomfortable having to choose between a binary just to go to the bathroom.” 

Kauffman expressed further benefits of offering single-stalled bathrooms on campus. “I think there are a lot of other issues that this could help with, whether it’s medical issues, someone needing more privacy. Honestly, even vaping in the bathrooms. If there can’t be huge groups of people going into one stall, I think that would be really helpful.”

One concern, however, is the attitude that students might have towards gender-neutral restrooms. “The only thing that I’m not so sure on is that the original [Ruby Scott] bathroom — it was the girls’ bathroom, right? And then they converted it, but there’s still the boys right next to the bathroom. So it does still have the mindset that there are boys and then here’s what is called ‘all gender.’ But it’s really going to still create division,” Bues said. 

Bues suggested that the Ruby Scott boys’ bathroom be converted to an all-gender restroom to alleviate some of this separation. He also brought up the new tampon and pad dispensers stationed in girls’ restrooms across campus. Adding pad and tampon dispensers, he said, “makes sense, but it’s also something that if had done that with the boys’ bathroom, it would have clearly said ‘for all bodies’ because there are urinals in there too.”

Aside from this critique, Bues is grateful for the exposure that these gender-neutral spaces are fostering. “If [gender neutral school bathrooms] started at a young age, society would kind of just get used to it, if that’s what they grew up with. And so normalizing this just creates comfort and that this is normal,” Bues said.