Construction on Wilson High School’s new multi-million dollar aquatic center is slated to begin next summer, marking the start of a series of five high school pools that will eventually build Long Beach Unified, but the recently released final designs have clearly pissed off some parents over the planned gender-neutral locker room. …
The Wilson High Aquatic Center, due to be ready for next school year, has a $ 23 million budget and will feature a new outdoor pool and seating.
But the complex will also have a changing room for men and women.
This means that, instead of having changing rooms for boys and girls, students will use the same room regardless of their gender.
The dressing room will have 58 individual changing cabins, as well as separate showers and toilets. The institution will have a common area where students will gather to wait for the booth to open so they can change or take a shower. At least one critic thinks private parterres can have problems dressing large groups of students for competitions, and a common room where students of all genders gather can have security problems.
Long Beach Unified School District officials said Monday November 29 that the changing room for men and women is designed to provide a safe environment for all students.
The students, LBUSD officials added, almost unanimously stated that they were uncomfortable with shared showers and changing clothes, which had long been the norm in high schools.
But resistance to this plan may grow.
While it’s unclear how many parents oppose a gender-neutral locker room, at least one – who is also a volunteer coach at Wilson – recently sent community members a letter criticizing the institution.
LBUSD has scheduled a virtual community meeting at 6:00 pm on Tuesday 30 November to provide information and answer questions. The meeting will be streamed on the district’s YouTube page and people will be able to ask questions via a Google link that will be available.
This item is on the LBUSD Student Council meeting agenda – at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 1 – during which materials and services for construction at Wilson and Lakewood High Schools will be reviewed for approval.
“One-stop schools reaffirms our commitment to providing a safe and productive learning environment for all students,” said David Miranda, Executive Director of LBUSD School Development and Planning. “The Wilson inclusive locker room will also benefit students of different genders and students with disabilities, including students who require assistance from a guardian of a different gender.”
Sex is different from the biological sex of a person. Humans are usually born biologically male or female. But a person’s gender identity may differ from their assigned sex at birth, and may even go beyond traditional descriptions of male and female sex.
Katie Rowe, a volunteer coach at Wilson High, said in an email that the gender-neutral locker room, which she called “coeducation,” violates safe sports standards for student athletes and holds executives legally liable as they monitor students. it will be difficult or impossible.
“The problem is that student locker rooms make it impossible for students to dress in the open,” she wrote. “This is probably not such a big problem during PE class. However, this is a HUGE PROBLEM for our sports teams. “
But Evelyn Somoza, LBUSD Assistant Spokesperson, said inclusive opportunities were the result of a two-year discussion that brought together students and trainers from across the district.
Although the final designs were recently released, the concept of inclusive spaces was presented to the school council in August 2020, she said.
“The district’s decision to include plans for inclusive education is in line with the district’s principles of fairness and inclusiveness,” Somoza wrote in a statement, “and also takes into account the student campaign to ensure equal access to school premises for all students.”
Rowe said in an email that the space is likely to be suitable for exercise, but that she is still concerned about mixing boys and girls in a changing room atmosphere.
Somoza, however, said the changing room for men and women would actually increase the staff’s ability to observe students.
“Student safety and privacy, as well as staff oversight, have been carefully considered when designing Wilson’s inclusive locker room,” she said. “The locker room can be accessed by staff of any gender, giving Wilson an increased ability to monitor students.”
Rowe also said the changing room could be problematic during competition.
Some of these events, including the Moore League championship, may have around 250 competitors.
According to Rowe, they will all fight for the same counters – the time to change is limited.
“So if we have about 80-100 girls who need 15-20 minutes to put on a suit, and we have 58 stalls,” she said. “This math doesn’t work.”
According to her, 10 shower cubicles and nine toilet cubicles in the current design will not be sufficient.
LBUSD could also face liability issues if teachers or coaches see naked or half-naked children, Rowe said, although this appears to be a problem in changing rooms for men and women as well.
The planned showers are large enough for students to shower and change into street clothes before returning to the common area, Somoza said.
Meanwhile, the locker room is an example of LBUSD being a leader in gender-neutral design, Somoza said, which the state has taken into account as well.
“This month, the California Department of Education announced the formation of a committee that will help develop recommendations for increasing the availability of gender-neutral toilets on California school campuses,” Somoza said. “There is no government requirement that changing rooms for men and women must have individual changing rooms and showers.”