What if… Ola was inclusive?

Gender neutral bathrooms encourage inclusion by creating a more accepting and safe environment.


Maria Adams

Ola has the opportunity to be more inclusive by creating gender neutral restrooms. The restrooms have been built in schools around the nation.

Maria Adams, Business Manager

A few weeks ago, I believed Ola already was inclusive, but I know so much more today. I was on a field trip in Athens, Ga, and I had to answer nature’s call. When I found the restroom, I saw a sign that read ‘All Genders Restroom,’ and it amazed me. They were so accepting and inclusive, but why was it amazing? Accepting and inclusive should simply be normal. 

Sex segregated restrooms fail to meet the needs of all students. My generation has recently been allowed to express their gender identity in schools, which have worked hard to achieve gender equality.

Schools must see the student as the gender they identify with according to Title lX, so students may use the restroom they prefer. The counter argument to Title lX is that restrooms are birth-gender designated (separate but equal) and some students might not feel safe with others that are not biologically the same.

However, in the past few years, students have actively encouraged LGBQT rights through clubs, including Gay-Straight Alliance and more, and we have seen improvement on acceptance and inclusion on a national level. Young people have started this conversation, and we need to do more to rectify situations of bullying, ignorance, and all the other problems students face today based on their orientation.

Should not every student feel comfortable using the restroom and is that not a basic human right? We all have to do our business, and we have the option to make it comfortable and simple for everyone. A school’s responsibility is to provide a safe learning environment, but not every student feels safe using birth-gender designated restrooms. Students must broaden their minds now, not twenty years later after the harm has been done.

According to the Henry County Handbook of 2019-20, “It is the policy of the Henry County Board of Education to maintain a learning environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability,” yet this policy is not used in the restrooms. Beside transgender student, students, who have anxiety or have been sexually assaulted, might also feel vulnerable and uncomfortable in our current bathrooms. They might feel unsafe in bathrooms that are not fully private. We can not claim Henry County lacks the resources as schools add on second gyms (which, by all means) we are grateful for.

This is more than gender, this is inclusion. We fail to open our minds to diversity when we only think in black and white, male and female.