FAQ regarding Gender Neutral Restrooms

(Published originally in October 2015 by then-Principal Sam Bass)

Miraloma Families,

Several of you have asked for an FAQ on Miraloma's conversion to gender neutral bathrooms, what that means for your student(s), and how it will affect them as they get into the upper grade levels.  Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions to provide further information for you and your student.

1. How was the decision made to convert to gender neutral bathrooms? Was parent input included?

The decision to convert to gender neutral bathrooms was based on student need.  Miraloma Elementary strives to be a leader in SFUSD for inclusive practices, welcoming all families, and most importantly welcoming all students. We have students on the gender spectrum.  Converting most of our bathrooms to gender neutral benefits all students of every grade level and creates a safe and supportive environment for all of our students. Parent input was included, as it always it, although the issue was not put out to the entire community. Nothing is changing for our 2nd-5th graders.

2. What language will be used to explain the decision to students? How will behavioral expectations be enforced?

90% of our staff has attended gender sensitive training, which includes appropriate language for speaking to students about inclusivity and fairness.  Behavioral expectations are being taught just as we teach expectations for the cafeteria, yard, hallways, classrooms, etc.  Students will need reminders from time to time and our staff is well-equipped to guide our student body through this conversion.

3. Will boys and girls be in bathrooms at the same time?

No. As I stated previously, this is a gradual conversion happening with this year's 1st graders (who are already used to gender neutral bathrooms from Kindergarten). Kindergarten will always remain the same for bathrooms with K1 and K2 sharing a bathroom and K8 having it's own unisex bathroom (1 at a time).  Rm 109 (Ms. Huang) has a 1-toilet bathroom for students to use.  Rms 105 and 107 have switched from sharing gender specific bathrooms to each room having its own bathroom for students to use and using a single-use approach.  As our 1st graders move up the grade levels, we have discussed as a staff that each 2nd and 3rd grade classroom will each convert their bathroom usage so that students will use the bathrooms one at a time in their classrooms.  Rms 100-101 will use the 105-107 method and reassign based on room, not on gender.  Rms 102, 106, and 108 will assign specific spaces to specific rooms, creating single-use spaces for each class.  For our upper grades (4th-5th) the conversion will look a bit different and we will continue to have conversations about what is developmentally appropriate and comfortable for all students.  The conversion for 4th/5th grades will start during the 2018-2019 school year when this year's 1st graders enter 4th grade.  At that time, all students will have different options for restroom use, including 2 student gender neutral bathrooms on the 2nd floor.  The restrooms currently used by our 4th and 5th graders are constructively designed to be gender specific.  Conversion of these spaces would/will require more planning, funding, and time if we are going to consider that.  In the interim, we were able to convert the 2 bathrooms on 2nd floor into single-use gender neutral restrooms.  Currently (because of construction codes) we cannot change the locking systems on the doors to those restrooms.  Once I have signed off on the construction completion, signage and locks will be adjusted to accommodate our gender neutral conversion more accurately.

4. Why is it important to convert all bathrooms if this only affects a small handful of students?

It doesn't.  It affects ALL students.  Not only do we want ALL of our students to feel safe, supported, and comfortable to be who they are, we want them to understand systematic equality for everyone.  We are teaching them a valuable lesson.  Additionally, we have students who are sometimes just not comfortable using a bathroom with other students present in the space and this conversion, which is also a conversion to single-use restrooms, will benefit all students and their comfort levels.

5. Will future conversion of 4th/5th grade bathrooms come out of school budget? If so, how will this affect the priorities of the school?

No.  If we decide to constructively convert the two 4th/5th grade restrooms, it will not come out of site funds unless the SSC/PTA jointly decide it's appropriate (which will only be a conversation if SFUSD Buildings & Grounds cannot assist to our satisfaction).

As my 2nd year of being Miraloma's principal is well under way, I continue to thank the universe every single day that I am your student's principal.  I love Miraloma and its community for many reasons, 1 big reason for our philosophy of inclusion and acceptance.  This gradual conversion to gender neutral bathrooms is the right thing to do for our students and I appreciate all of the supportive feedback we've received because of it.  Some elementary schools in the district have created 1 space for a student on the gender spectrum to use.  Here at Miraloma, we are the first elementary school in the district to say that's not good enough.  All of our students should have full, equal, safe, comfortable access to facilities and we are fortunate at Miraloma that we can make that happen! This week, SFUSD Communications is releasing a press release about our stance on inclusion and our restroom conversion, which could possibly be picked up by 1 or more media sources.  The district is proud to see Miraloma as a leader in the district for equality and we should all be proud too! :)

Sam Bass - principal 2014-2016