Push for gender-neutral facilities creates divide

Photo by Raz Rasmussen.

By LIBBY GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:

Inside Texas schools, colleges and universities, the call for regulations to protect transgender people has turned into a battle about bathrooms.

Now some students at Amarillo College are ready to enter the facilities fray. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education directed all educational entities that receive federal funding to allow transgender students to use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

This directive has sparked an outcry across the state and has led several colleges and universities to create gender-neutral bathrooms. Some AC students say that adding gender-neutral facilities on AC campuses is a necessary part of protecting transgender rights.

“Equality is a right for everyone, not an exclusive privilege for a few,” Steve Garcia, a nursing major said.

“AC should have gender-neutral bathrooms in order to encourage a welcoming environment to all its students,” Garcia said, noting that he feels conflict regarding gender-neutral facilities “only causes ignorance and hatred.”

Macey Gibaszek, a history major, also favors the addition of gender-neutral facilities. “Students should be able to feel comfortable and safe while they are at AC,” Gibaszek said.

“I think that gender-neutral bathrooms are a wonderful step toward showing that AC is inclusive and caring when it comes to their students. A lot of people do not realize that there are already gender-neutral bathrooms in a large number of public places,” Gibaszek said.

“The only thing officially differentiating them as being gender-neutral is the sign, and sadly the signs are what seem to be causing some to react negatively.”

Other students say they are ready to flush proposals to add gender-neutral facilities. “I do not think we should have gender-neutral facilities, because it opens up the doors to serious problems,” Erika Mejia, a biology major, said. “We already have problems with assault. Imagine allowing a male to use the same restroom as a female. Someone could easily walk into the restroom and harass someone.”

Nursing major, Eunice Rangle agreed. “I do not think it is necessary and if it is like a gender-neutral restroom, I would personally feel very uncomfortable.”

Bob Austin, vice president of student affairs, said there are no plans to add gender-neutral bathrooms on AC campuses.

“I am not aware of any student requests for gender-neutral facilities, which leads me to believe that AC students are not passionate about this issue,” Austin said.

Austin did mention that there is one gender-neutral facility on the Washington Street Campus located next to the bookstore.

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