Gender neutral bathrooms at new White Bear Lake elementary school failing girls
Someone didn’t think this gender-neutral bathroom idea all the way through.
Taxpayers in the White Bear Lake School District passed the largest building referendum in state history in 2019, and one of the construction projects is a new elementary school in the fast-growing suburb of Hugo. When North Star Elementary opened this year, students in grades K-5 discovered there were no longer bathrooms marked Girls and Boys. They were replaced with gender-neutral “privacy bathrooms” with common areas for hand washing.
This was done presumedly to comply with White Bear’s Policy 413 – Addendum C – Administrative Guidelines for Transgender and Gender-Expansive Student Rights and Protections. The policy is there to “address the needs and concerns of transgender and gender-expansive students to ensure safe, supportive, and healthy school environments where every child can learn.”
III. FACILITY USE
A. Restroom Accessibility. Pursuant to state law, students shall have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school:
1. Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the student’s gender identity or expression, and regardless of the underlying reason for the student’s need or desire for increased privacy, should be provided access to a single user restroom.
2. No student shall be required to use a single user restroom because they are transgender or gender-expansive.
3. The District shall work with each gender-expansive student to determine which restrooms are most comfortable for the student.
4. In no case shall a transgender or gender-expansive student be required to use a restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.
I have no doubt the intentions were to protect and welcome transgender students who are weary of using a boys or girls bathroom. Putting aside for this post whether or not it’s a good idea to promote or accommodate transgenderism for students under the age of ten (it’s not), no one in White Bear thought through the unintended consequences of this misguided policy.
It turns out that 10-year-old boys are quite messy when it comes to using the bathroom. They pee standing up, frequently miss their target, sometimes leave the seat down and generally make a mess of the area. This hasn’t been a problem in American education up until now, because ten-year old girls haven’t had to use the same toilets as messy ten-year old boys.
One White Bear Lake mother I talked to said young girls are going the whole day without using the restroom because it’s too gross. When the moms approached the district, they were told that bathrooms and locker rooms have always been difficult to monitor, and the new policy isn’t any worse than the old policy when it comes to student safety.
I wondered if parents and students were surprised by the new bathroom configuration at North Star Elementary, so I looked back at the rollout of the new school. At a neighborhood meeting held on July 28, 2020, the presenters barely mentioned the bathrooms even as they went through every detail of the new building.
“And then there are bathrooms,” is all the architect said when walking through the design of the new building.
The district also produced a slick five-minute video of the school with the new principal conducting a virtual tour of the facility. “Another feature is that each studio will have its own designated mud room along with a series of privacy bathrooms.”
A series of privacy bathrooms. No mention of eliminating girls and boys bathrooms. No mention of Policy 413.
Schools are doing backflips to accommodate the small percentage of students suffering from gender dysphoria. But the unintended consequences are hurting everyone else, in this case kindergarten through fifth grade girls who simply want to use the restroom with a modicum of privacy and cleanliness. The gender-neutral bathrooms at North Star Elementary School are not living up to the lofty promise of a safe, supportive, and healthy school environment found in Policy 413.
We can do better.