Gender neutral bathrooms have taken over the North Kansas City school district.
The district is opening two new elementary schools Wednesday equipped with gender-neutral restrooms. The North Kansas City High School and centers for sixth-graders will also have bathrooms open to both male and female students, reportsThe Kansas City Star.
The restrooms do not have any open spaces where the students' feet would be exposed, as there are typically, but have full doors which lock. Students, both male or female, can use any of the stalls. The general area, where the sinks and mirrors are, are open to both genders, as well.
Signs outside the restrooms display both male and female symbols.
Some parents are thrilled with the change. "I think it is great," Melanie Austin, who has a first-grade daughter in the district, told The Kansas City Star. "You just don’t know what gender a kid might identify as. This helps everyone to feel comfortable, accepted."
"We had such positive feedback from students, teachers and parents," said the district's executive director of organizational development, Rochel Daniels. "Since then we have decided to replicate the concept in any new construction."
The gender-neutral bathroom designs first hit North Kansas City in 2016 and the Northland Innovation Center for gifted students. One year later, a high school within the district named a male student who identifies as female as their homecoming queen.
Daniels noted that the district does "have a policy about non-discrimination."
"The restrooms became a point where we can provide for all students. The design was a decision based on privacy, safety and security for all students," she said.
Chris Neale, serving as assistant commissioner of quality schools for Missouri's state education department, said the move was done to fit the needs of the student population at hand, noting that there are no state or federal laws enforcing gender-neutral restrooms.
Guidance establishing bathrooms open to students' "gender identity" at the threat of revoked funding and lawsuits, controversially issued under former President Barack Obama, was rescinded last year by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
"If there was a law that addressed this, it would be our job to implement it," said Neale. "We trust school boards like North Kansas City to be very attuned to local constituents and to make the very best decisions with regard to their student population."