The Importance of Gender Neutral Locker Rooms


Kai Arrowood, Junior Executive Editor

With the relaxation of COVID restrictions, transgender and gender non-conforming students have been left in a difficult position, as locker rooms are now used for students to change before all physical education classes. Students are required to change into school-mandated uniforms and drop their belongings in a locker before participating in class, and they are marked as unprepared for class if they do not.  However, this year, an important development has taken place; the construction of an equal-access locker room. 

Mr. Cicolini, Principal Newman, and Assistant Principal of Health and Safety Ms. Iacono all worked together these past two weeks to assemble an equal-access space for students to change in if they prefer. Mr. Cicolini said, “We opened an equal access locker room, room 3E21. Right now, there’s ten lockers in there, and it’s two stalls, and just like the normal locker rooms there’s gonna be a physical education teacher at the beginning of every period there, monitoring it.” 

However, the new locker room has yet to be announced. Cicolini said, “This is something that needs to get communicated. I think it should come from Principal Newman, but if any student is looking for a locker room they could ask their teacher and the teacher would tell them where it is.” This is a very helpful development, and a solution to an issue that has deeper roots in the school culture. 

Some transgender students feel that the environment at tech can be transphobic, causing stress. Vania Workman von Ussar (they/he/she), a senior in the SSR major, said, “I feel a lot more safe and respected in the girl’s locker room, I don’t feel that I would like going into a boys locker room and saying ‘Hey, I’m trans and non-binary, even though I’m wearing a crop top and a miniskirt, but I’m still a boy.’” They went on to express how they felt using the boys locker room could put them in a dangerous position. 

Diana Curinga (she/he) said, “I would say that beyond what a normal student would feel about being in such a tight, private environment, I wouldn’t say I feel fear necessarily, but stress, certainly. Like, thinking about whether or not I should take my shirt off.” The level of stress transgender students have to endure, on top of the normal stress of a high school student, makes it ever more helpful and important that an equal-access locker room was constructed. 

In discussing other possible solutions to the current locker room system, von Ussar said, “I don’t know if there’s enough gender non-conforming students in the school to do [a gender-neutral locker room], but I definitely think that would be a good idea. I would say degender the locker rooms in general. Personally, that would be what I would want.” It seems that this new space is properly addressing the needs of trans and gender non-conforming students. 

There are support systems in place for transgender students at Tech, but students felt they did not help them deal with the uncomfortable situation brought on by gym classes, as they still had trouble communicating with their teachers. Describing a friend’s experience, Curinga said, “Unlike me, she does not identify with her [gender assigned at birth] anymore, but she said, you know, is it worth it to go to the teacher?” This equal-access locker room effectively solves this dilemma, and shows a step forward in accommodation and LGBTQIA+ progress. 

The beginning of the year was stressful for Trans and gender non-conforming students. The gender neutral locker room helps to alleviate a lot of discomfort and solve a glaring problem. If all goes well, there will be a simple solution to the problem. This space, although small, shows trans students that they are accommodated, heard, and accepted.