The San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education is expected to vote next week on a resolution that would ensure students have access to labeled, single-stall restrooms for all genders. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education is expected to vote next week on a resolution that would ensure students have access to labeled, single-stall restrooms for all genders. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Gender neutral restrooms more accessible under school board proposal

On the first day of her sophomore year, Rexy Amaral walked into Mission High School strutting in black wedges, her makeup done, her hair pushed to the side.

It was the first time she felt accepted in school.

“I had such a blessing given to me when I was able to transfer to Mission High School,” Amaral, a transgender woman and recent graduate, recalled at a press conference last month on the steps of her alma mater. “I knew it was a safe space for gay and lesbian students.”

Since 1990, when the San Francisco Unified School District became the first in the nation to implement counseling services specifically for LGBT students, the school district has been a gay rights leader, according to Board of Education President Matt Haney.

The school board may deepen and clarify its policies around gender neutral bathrooms and support for transgender students with a vote next week on a resolution that would ensure students have access to labeled, single-stall restrooms for all genders.

Under district policy, every public school in San Francisco currently has at least one gender neutral bathroom on campus.

“The challenge with that is that those bathrooms are not always accessible — they aren’t labeled,” Haney said. “It might be a staff bathroom, where a student would have to go and ask for special access.”

This resolution would change district policy to make sure gender neutral bathrooms are accessible to students, as well as change the signage on such restrooms to label them “all gender.”

“It’s a nuanced difference, but it’s a very important difference,” Haney said.

The resolution comes one month after President Barack Obama directed public schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms and lockers of their preference, which the school district is already in line with.

For the first time, Haney’s resolution would require the district to prioritize including gender neutral restrooms when constructing or redesigning schools and administration buildings. A second part of the resolution would make dress codes and uniform policies gender neutral, including those for special events like prom.

“We have had schools where they still were doing ‘girls wear one color and boys wear another color,’” Haney said. “We kind of want to move beyond that.”

Amaral, the Mission High alumna, thought she was going to have trouble several years ago when she joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and wanted to wear a female uniform. But even before the latest proposal, she had no trouble at Mission High.

“It was no big deal to him that I just wanted to wear the female uniform,” Amaral said of her JROTC instructor.

The resolution would also ensure students can change their registered name or gender in the district without a court order.

Haney’s resolution was introduced at the same board meeting where Superintendent Richard Carranza put forth another piece of legislation condemning a house bill in North Carolina that limits which school bathrooms transgender students can use.

Carranza’s resolution would prohibit school district workers from traveling to the state.

Haney said he considers his proposed resolution “the anti-North Carolina approach to ensuring bathrooms to students.”

The San Francisco Examiner will spotlight The City’s LGBT community in Wednesday editions leading up to a special section for San Francisco Pride 2016 on June 22.Barack Obamaeducationgender neutralLGBTMission High SchoolrestroomsSan FranciscoschoolsSFUSD

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