Co-ed Locker Rooms Are Necessary

Lecya Santiago, Op-Ed Editor

Photo by Joshua Hoehne

When preparing for a typical sports game, people are expecting to see their own gender while changing. Though, is turning around and seeing someone of a different gender so bad? Is it okay to give students the option of co-ed locker rooms within the United States?

This idea of co-ed locker rooms is not new, introduced to prevent discrimination against transgender students. Now, it has evolved to break the gender binary created in the U.S and to let people feel comfortable. For example, in Europe and Asia, unisex rooms are standard but are not introduced in high schools either. Thus, there haven’t been many recorded trials on introducing unisex rooms for high school age students. FCPS has made accommodations for transgender people but has made no move to advocate for co-ed locker rooms openly. 

In 2019, the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District—located in Schaumburg, Illinois fought for four years to open co-ed locker rooms for transgender students (mandating that changing in a separate room was not mandatory.) Now, locker rooms are open for those who may not biologically share the same physical traits to change within the locker room that suits their needs. While this incorporates co-ed locker rooms, the entire idea of creating joint rooms is still under the guise of transgender student protections. FCPS introducing a co-ed locker room would most likely receive backlash based on the transgender rules created and would need a defense of why high schools should include co-ed locker rooms. Another consideration would be targeting the locker rooms to specific schools as there are monetary differences between each school, making the transition possibly harder or more accessible. 

The idea can be successful, seen in Township High School District, also located in Illinois. The district began advocating for co-ed locker rooms after being found for violating transgender rights and having issues regarding bullying. Naturally, there would be no lawsuit if co-ed rooms existed in the first place; segregation and discrimination being no issue if everyone changed in one area. After bringing the problems to light, they allowed students to use the locker room as needed. 

Adding co-ed locker rooms is difficult as one would need to uncover reasoning that would stand against district officials, but ultimately the idea of breaking the social construct using bathrooms would be remarkable. However, school board officials need to run trials on a broader scale aligning with the morals in America before normalizing them co-ed locker rooms in high schools. Co-ed locker rooms could be a step toward better laws against discrimination in schools.