Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In this KC-area school district, boys and girls will share gender-neutral restrooms

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No more separate restrooms for boys and girls, with rows of feet-showing stalls. The North Kansas City school district is going fully gender neutral at two new elementary schools, opening on Wednesday, as well as in a few renovated restrooms in North Kansas City High School and the sixth-grade centers.

The bathrooms still have an open alcove area with a common trough sink, but the toilets are enclosed inside individual stalls with floor-to-ceiling walls and lockable doors.

A single sign on the wall outside displays both the male and female symbols.

North Kansas City first tried the gender-neutral design when it opened its Northland Innovation Center for gifted students in 2016. That was a year after one of the district’s four high schools, Oak Park, made national headlines when it became one of the first in the country to crown a transgender student its homecoming queen.

“We had such positive feedback from students, teachers and parents,” said Rochel Daniels, executive director of organizational development for the district. “Since then we have decided to replicate the concept in any new construction.” That included the newly built Rising Hill Elementary on Northeast 108th Street and Northview Elementary on North Indiana Avenue, as well as renovations at North Kansas City High and the Eastgate and Gateway sixth-grade centers.

“I think it is great,” said Melanie Austin, whose daughter will be a first-grader at the district’s Crestview Elementary and in gifted classes once a week at the innovation center. “You just don’t know what gender a kid might identify as. This helps everyone to feel comfortable, accepted.”

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