Deadbolts were placed on all restrooms at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. The district removed the deadlocks from bathroom doors without clear explanation. However, the removal of locks is better for the school and for students.
Teachers can now prevent students from engaging in inappropriate behavior such as vaping and lewd activities. The absence of locks makes it easier for teachers to access the restrooms, especially the gender neutral restrooms, if they are informed of an emergency or students breaking rules in the restrooms.
High school students can benefit from having no deadbolts on the bathrooms. In case of medical emergencies or other unexpected situations, the lock on the door can be a barrier between the student and teachers. If someone was unresponsive, nobody would be able to access the restroom, which could cause serious harm to the student.
Administration did the right thing by taking the locks off of the restrooms because students could use the restroom to bully other students, and Bexley must prevent this from happening. A student could meet another kid in the restrooms and lock the door behind them. This would make it easier for students to fight or pick on one another.
Removing locks from restrooms benefits teachers because it is harder for students to break rules on vaping and vandalism in the restrooms. The administration took the locks off of the gender neutral bathrooms because that is where most of the rule-breaking occurred. Since open restrooms make it easier for teachers to catch students misbehaving, students will spend more time in class and less time in the restrooms.
There have been instances all around the country where students have brought weapons to school and utilized the restroom locks to prevent themselves from getting caught, such as in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting, when a mass shooter bought weapons in his backpack and went into the bathroom to pull them out. Not having locks can help prevent an event like this from happening at Bexley.
The district has a multitude of safety measures in place, such as making the main entrance the only functional door in the high school, locking the gates around the Cassingham turf when school is in session and putting sensors all around the school that teachers can use to report emergencies. Locks being taken off the doors is part of the safety measure that the district has in place to keep students safe.
Toward the end of the last school year, all locks on the school restrooms were removed due to inappropriate behavior. However, taking away the locks on bathrooms is problematic because it removes a sense of safety and security to students who need it, and taking off these locks does not solve potential vaping or bullying, it encourages it.
During emergency situations like school shootings, students who cannot make it to the safety of their classrooms may need to take shelter in bathrooms. If this is their only option of refuge, students can’t guarantee their safety in the bathrooms because anyone can easily walk in. A preventative measure as small as a lock on a bathroom can help prevent lives from being taken.
Gender neutral restrooms should have locks for the safety of the students who do not feel comfortable using the female and male restrooms. Nonbinary students cannot feel comfortable in their own schools if they have no place to feel secure. This will cause mental health issues like anxiety when transgender and nonbinary students have to use the restrooms knowing anyone can walk in at any moment and contribute to any dysphorias one may have.
Personally, I have walked in on someone using a single stalled bathroom countless times because they are unable to lock the door. This causes a lot of discomfort between both people. No one wants to be walked in while changing, which can happen any moment without locks on the bathrooms and will increase bullying if students don’t have a safety measure on those gender neutral bathrooms.
If vaping was a reason for removing locks, this decision will not stop anyone from indulging. This decision is not hurting those who vape–it is hurting other students who must bear the social consequences. Instead, the school should replace the locks on the single person bathrooms and put smoke detectors in those specific restrooms so the administration will know if students are misusing these bathrooms and can hold those vaping accountable. These actions would discourage students from using the restrooms in inappropriate ways, and maintaining locks can protect students from any form of harm.
Removing these locks only resulted in multiple issues outweighing the initial cause for the lock removal. It is important to make everyone feel comfortable and a sense of belonging in a school where students spend hours almost every day. Preventative measures are most important so that we can stop issues from happening before they occur instead of crossing our fingers and hoping the worst possible outcome does not happen. If the administration is proactive, then all students will feel like Bexley is where they belong.
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