Administration replaced deadlocks on single-stall restrooms after objections from transgender and non-binary identifying students.
Director of Facilities and Operations Harley Williams said he received notice to remove the deadlocks from Superintendent Jason Fine in the spring after reports of bullying taking place in a multi-stall bathroom with a deadlock. The deadlocks were initially installed in case of a school lockdown, he added.
“Our fear and concern of something like that occurring in a place we couldn’t access outweighed the reasons to keep the locks on,” Williams explained.
Although many transgender students noticed the locks’ removal the previous school year, junior Jules Clous explained more people have started to voice their concerns now due to the new administration.
Clous said he took action by talking with Principal Jason Caudill about transgender students’ concerns for their safety specifically due to the removal of locks from both the one multi-stall and two single-stall gender neutral bathrooms in the school.
“I think the sentiment from the trans population of the school isn’t that what the school did is super atrocious, but it is that every action they take, they aren’t thinking about things that affect trans students,” he said. “The gender neutral bathrooms aren’t exclusively for trans people, but they are the only bathrooms that most trans students can go to.”
An anonymous student said they expressed their frustrations with the administration’s actions by writing graffiti on the multi-stall gender neutral bathroom in the first floor arts wing.
The source explained they wrote sayings such as “protect trans youth,” “put our locks back on” and “give us our safety back” to voice the desire for deadlocks to be put back on gender neutral bathrooms.
“I thought it was really stupid to remove them,” they added. “It made me feel like the administration didn’t care. Just because some people were misusing the space, now we have to pay for it. Being trans is hard enough.”
Williams said he wished the student responsible for the vandalism took another route to voicing their opinion.
“I’m never going to support vandalism,” he said. “I would rather that person sit down and have a conversation with me to ask why, instead of jumping to their own conclusions.”
Williams added when he first received notice of student objections, the administration worked with Marcelius Braxton, the previous leader of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to address concerns about the locks’ removal as much as possible.
“We came to the conclusion that we should supply access to a restroom, but we are not required to provide a lock on every door as long as there is privacy in the stall,” he explained.
Clous said after his talk with Caudill, deadlocks were put back on the two single-stall gender neutral restrooms, but he still believes more can be done to support the school’s trans population.
“The main issue is the way the school views the gender neutral bathrooms,” he explained. “Trans students need that safe space, and right now it feels like there is a basic lack of respect for that.”