- Plans for a new elementary school in Hanover County, Virginia, call for the construction of gender-neutral bathrooms. When finished, for the 2024-25 school year, the school would be among the first in the state to have only gender-neutral bathrooms available, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Design plans call for individual toilet rooms in every wing on every floor for 2nd through 5th grades. K-1 classrooms will each have individual toilet rooms, and in the cafeteria and gym, there will be multiple stall toilet rooms. Each toilet room will be completely private, with floor to ceiling partitions, according to a July 12 presentation to the Hanover County School Board.
- Some efforts across the country to build school bathrooms and locker rooms for all users have cooled because of divides over LGBTQ policies and curricula. But other school systems are exploring gender-neutral bathroom renovation and new construction options to increase school safety and student well-being.
GLSEN, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ youth, has recommended that schools consider using federal pandemic relief funds to convert school bathrooms or locker rooms into gender-neutral, or all-user, spaces.
Maine's School Union 76 in Deer Isle planned to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to create gender-neutral bathrooms at an elementary school. Another school district in the state — Maine School Administrative District #53 — said it plans to use ESSER III funding to build a "family bathroom" at a middle school, according to Burbio, a data services firm.
But on the other side of the country, in California’s Long Beach Unified School District, school officials put on pause a plan for a gender-neutral high school locker room amid concerns in the community, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A 2019 school climate survey by GLSEN found many LGBTQ students avoided gender-segregated spaces in school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. Some 45.2% of students surveyed said they avoid bathrooms, and 43.7% avoid locker rooms.
LGBTQ student experiences in avoiding bathrooms led Tony Thurmond, California state superintendent of public instruction, to create an ad hoc committee charged with making recommendations for expanding the availability of gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools. Members of the Safe School Bathrooms Ad Hoc Committee include students, parents, school staff, California Department of Education staff, policymakers and advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality California, according to an April superintendent update.
President Joe Biden, just days after his inauguration in 2021, signed an Executive Order to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. "Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," the order said.
A report from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found that during the pandemic, LGBTQ students had heightened risks for anxiety and stress. As schools were closed to in-person learning, these students lost regular access to affirming student organizations and supportive peers, teachers and school staff, the report said.
Under Title IX proposed rules released last month, the Education Department called for expanded protections for LGBTQ students, but did not specify bathroom design at schools.
Many education stakeholders are anticipating clearer directions about this sensitive subject as court cases regarding LGBTQ protections work their way through the legal system.
Meanwhile, a federal judge last week temporariliy blocked the Biden administration's directives to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms and to participate on athletic teams according to their gender identity. The order was in response to a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general last year against the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.