For many trans and nonbinary students, gender-inclusive bathrooms are definitely not enough.
At the Berkeley Unified School District, the administration seems to be catching up to this, slowly but surely.
In 2013, BUSD pushed forward policies that require schools to use students’ chosen names and personal pronouns in all possible circumstances, including attendance lists, report cards and school IDs. Regardless of legal name changes, safeguards have been put in place against the administration revealing students’ gender identities.
As of this year, nonbinary students have been granted the same recognitions as male-to-female and female-to-male trans kids. According to a Berkeleyside interview with BUSD’s director of student services, there are now roughly 30 students that have registered updated gender and name information into the school system database. On top of that, as of this year, every BUSD school has at least one single-stall “all student restroom.”
These strides are impressive in comparison with almost all other school districts in the United States. But that’s not saying much. Berkeley can claim to be a progressive community all it wants, but it needs to do much more to avoid betraying those ideals. On behalf of trans and nonbinary students in the BUSD, there is still more to be done.
Normalizing gender conversations out in the open in overwhelmingly cisgender spaces by education administrators is incredibly important. Still, for many students, the issue may just lie in the classroom. It’s often harder to ask teachers about sensitive gender topics because “adults will be adults,” and no one can blame queer kids for mistrusting authority. According to Berkeleyside, some concerned parents said teachers were more likely to misgender students than other students.
Kids at BUSD are allowed to change their names and gender options, which is a start, but if they’re under 18, they need parental permission. Kids are being told that they’re leading the way, but they’re still expected to answer to authority figures about their gender identity. This is unacceptable as well.
Here on the UC Berkeley campus, trans and nonbinary students know how challenging it can be to get elite, supposedly progressive institutions to budge on making gender-inclusive bathrooms a reality.
Campus students will also be the first to tell you that the one-bathroom thing is sort of a gimmick. Children shouldn’t have to run across their campus to get to the one safe bathroom available to them. BUSD must continue to expand its gender-neutral bathroom selection on all campuses.
People might say, “Oh we did something! You just have to wait for things to go further.” But trans students shouldn’t have to wait any longer to have their identities formally recognized. We shouldn’t have to make kids sit on their hands waiting. They’re kids!
That being said, this is just the voice of the Daily Californian Ed Board, which is nowhere near as important as the voices of trans students at the BUSD. So who gives a shit while they aren’t being heard?
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.