MASCO FOCUSES ON INCLUSIVITY, OPENS TWO NEW GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS
By Piper Testa
Masco recently converted two staff bathrooms on the second and third floors into gender-neutral bathrooms for all students and staff to use freely.
Principal Katherine DiNardo was the one to make the final decision regarding the change.
“It has been a long time coming. All need to have access to a bathroom on each floor,” said DiNardo.
GSA advisor and Gender Support Team coordinator Shannon Murphy has been one of many working for years towards a change like this. The Gender Support Team is a group of faculty members that come together to be a voice to help students feel supported and make sure that information is available in regards to gender identity.
“I think it will have a huge impact, especially for people who have not been comfortable using the restroom at school, which is a basic human need,” said Murphy.
She said that it will also help in the classroom, as it is difficult to pay attention when needing to go to the bathroom.
“Until you actually go to the bathroom, you're not going to pay attention to algebra, or rhetorical analysis, or your periodic table of the elements,” said Murphy.
This has been a change that has been in the works for many years. In the past, there used to be gender-neutral bathrooms in the cafeteria before they were shut down, leaving one option in the nurse’s office on the first floor. This made it exceptionally difficult for students, both because of the distance and the potential embarrassment.
“I did have students who told me that they were missing valuable class time because they needed to make that trek all the way to the cafeteria to use the bathroom,” said Murphy.
She is happy that now there are two new bathrooms on the second and third floors for easy access for students.
GSA secretary sophomore Mercury Renault thinks that this will be a very positive change for Masco and its students.
“This is something that I think will help a lot of people, specifically nonbinary and genderqueer individuals,” said Renault.
In addition, Renault said that he thinks it will be good for trans students who don't feel comfortable using the bathroom that corresponds to their sex assigned at birth.
“I know personally, as a trans guy, I feel most comfortable using a gender-neutral bathroom because I don't pass very well,” Renault said. “So I think this will truly help a lot of people.”
Both Renault and Murphy see this as a positive change for more gender-affirming resources at Masco.
“I think this is a big step in the right direction and opens the door for other opportunities in the future,” said Renault.
The Gender Support Team has plans to make more positive changes for the students at Masco.
“We're trying to get more physical resources in place for students, but also more informational resources. We would love to provide access to those things for not just students but for the people who care about them; their family, their friends, and their community members,” said Murphy.
The hope is to move towards creating an easy-to-navigate section on the School Counseling Department’s web page that will serve as a location for information and resources about not just gender identity, but about the needs of various student populations.
“That will ideally all live in one little place on the website instead of having to dive five layers deep to find what you want to know,” said Murphy.
Murphy and Renault also hope to educate not just students, but the staff as well. Renault hopes that these opportunities can help teach teachers to respect their students' pronouns.
“I know this has been an issue for me, and I'd hope to improve upon that in the future,” Renault said.
The gender-neutral bathrooms have been a major step in making Masco a more open space for all students. The hope is following this change, more gender-affirming changes can be made as well as changes to better support the students and faculty to make Masco even more inclusive.