New gender-neutral bathroom provides safety, comfort for students of all gender identities


Photo credit: Oona Seppala

The new, blank triangle sign on the gender-neutral bathroom replaces the old female figure sign. According to GSA Executive Board member and junior Remi Cannon, the opening of the gender-neutral bathroom helps provide a safe space for students of all gender identities at Archer.

By Oona Seppala, Senior Reporter

Despite the title The Archer School for Girls, not every student may identify as female, which is why the Archer administration implemented a student-only, gender-neutral bathroom. The purpose of this bathroom is to better represent and create a safe space for students of all gender identities.

California Senator Josh Newman proposed a bill in February that requires all K-12 schools to have a gender-neutral bathroom for the “well-being of LGBTQ+ and non-binary students and ensure safer school communities for everyone.”

In May, the Gender Sexuality Alliance Executive Board and Dean of Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Samantha Hazell-O’Brien announced the bathroom between rooms 151 and 148 would become the first student-only, gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Since the announcement, the sign on the bathroom door with a woman figure wearing a dress has been covered with a blank triangle, and there is a sign posted outside the bathroom that says “Students Only.”

However, this is not the first gender-neutral bathroom on campus. For the majority of the year, the single-stall restroom in the art hallway was a designated gender-neutral bathroom. According to Hazell-O’Brien, this bathroom closed and returned to its original purpose as a staff bathroom only since behavior against handbook was taking place in the bathroom.

According to GSA Executive Board member Remi Cannon (’24) and GSA member Stella Leland (’26), there was initially a lot of communication between GSA and administration about closing and reopening the downstairs gender-neutral bathroom. The GSA Executive Board approached Hazell-O’Brien in March to discuss reopening or creating a new gender-neutral bathroom on campus.

“I knew we needed to have some communication with the administration because … if this was going to keep happening, we needed something a bit more permanent,” Cannon said. “So, I sent a very extensive email to Hazell-O’Brien and … from there, we  just did a bit of a back-and-forth communication about what can happen.”

After a discussion with GSA supervisor Dani LeNoir, Hazell-O’Brien and other GSA board members, the administration determined this would become the new gender-neutral bathroom.

The Oracle sent out a survey to all students in grades six through 12 to further understand how the student body feels about the importance of having a gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Out of 501 students, 134 responded, and 77.6% of students agreed or strongly agreed that having a student-only, gender-neutral bathroom is important.

“I think [having a gender-neutral bathroom] is important because even though we go to an all-girls school, we do have gender-diverse students,” Leland said. “Having a space where anyone can comfortably go to the bathroom is, I think, a human right.”

LeNoir described the bathroom as a place where students — however they identify or express themselves — can feel safe. LeNoir said there are students on campus who do not identify as cisgender women, and it is important to recognize and acknowledge these students and their needs.

In addition to changing the outside of the bathroom, the inside will change too. The gaps between will be closed this summer for additional privacy. LeNoir explained the importance of this privacy, as there are no private locker rooms at Archer. According to Lenoir, this bathroom can be a safe space that does not add any unnecessary discomfort or dysphoria for students.

“For me personally, on days where I’m feeling dysphoric, I really don’t want to be surrounded by other girls in a bathroom because it makes my gender feel invalidated,” Cannon said. “It sounds so silly, because it’s just a bathroom, but the gender-neutral bathroom is a resource for me and other students to have a moment of privacy.”

According to LeNoir, GSA and Archer administration are doing everything they can to make campus a safe space for students of all identities with the resources available. Cannon said the gender-neutral bathroom was an important first step in making Archer a more mindful and inclusive space, but there is still work that needs to be done.

“I think this was a great first step in connecting to GSA with administration and communicating perspectives from genderqueer students. In our meeting with Ms. Hazell-O’Brien, she was so accommodating, and the staff is using really great language,” Cannon said. “As for GSA, regardless of your gender identity or your sexuality, you are welcome to come to GSA and learn about the rich queer history that exists and pop culture because we really strive in GSA to just create a fun and inclusive space.”