FUSD Discusses Problems and Solutions to School Bathrooms
On March 23, 2016, Fremont Unified School District hosted a board meeting to discuss the inadequate bathrooms available to students at American High School due to rising student population over the years.
According to the statistics provided by the board, American High School is facing a shortage of 5 water closets and 6 lavatories for females. Meanwhile, the number for males are higher, with a shortage of 13 water closets, 11 urinals, and 10 lavatories.
“Strangely enough, many of my teachers have claimed that it is more logical for the girl’s bathroom to have longer lines,” Oscar Lim (12) said. “Yes, they possess more water closets, and it’s less of an easy pitstop than going to a urinal; but because they have more water closets, they don’t tend to have the same toilet paper dilemmas we have, nor do I know if any of their water closets aren’t operational. Since the boy’s bathroom has debilitations in terms of functionality, we suffer from less opportunity to actually use the bathroom.”
During the board meeting, PTSA member, Teri Morales indicated inaccuracies in the report the school board provided. According to Morales, many facilities accounted in the report, such as bathrooms in the gymnasium and swimming pool, are not available to students during the day. Also, the bathrooms in the multi-purpose room are closed during brunch and lunch.
“Based on my calculations, the restrooms that the majority of the students have access to during the days the ratios that I’ve come up with are, for the girls’ water closet, the ratio is suppose to be 1:30, it’s 1:64,” Morales said. “For boy’s water closet, it should be 1:40. It’s 1:160. With regards to the urinals and the lavatories, the ratios should be 1:40 and in each, for boy, girls and for the urinals, it’s 1:107. So this is why the lines are so long. Because it’s not necessarily the quantity of restrooms, it’s where they’re located and how accessible they are to the students.”
Because of these long lines, students are often unable to use the bathroom during brunch, lunch, and passing periods. Also, some students limit their use of school bathrooms due to bathroom lines, which can result in health issues.
“The line for the girls’ bathroom can get long very quickly, especially during brunch,” Lauryn Brooks (12) said. “ If it gets too long during brunch, I try to hold it and go during class myself. The teachers I have are fair when it comes to using the bathroom during class, [but]I know there are a few who have a more strict policy towards it though.”
To find a solution to this problem, Principal Steven Musto plans to discuss this issue at the department chair meeting in May. He acknowledges that class time is valuable, but believes that “maybe teachers have to change their way of thinking.” Meanwhile, some teachers, including English teacher Ms. Martin, understand the lack of bathrooms available to students.
“I used to be very strict about bathroom passes, and students only received two each semester (redeemable for extra credit if unused),” Martin said. “Then I started to realize that students should not have to decide between extra credit and going to the bathroom. Sometimes a person just has ‘to go.’ I try to encourage students to take care of their ‘business’ outside of class time, and I definitely talk to any student that I see developing a pattern of needing to use the restroom. I believe class time should be spent in class, as much as possible.”
In regards to this issue, the district has decided to add two bathrooms to the two new building that are being built. Musto has proposed two temporary solutions to this problem.
“One thing I have noticed, that there is a disproportionate line in the 300 wing bathroom and I want to get the word out to students that the multipurpose room has bathrooms facilities,” Musto said. “Maybe they can get the habit of spreading our more. I am going to send our a school loop email to students to let them know. [Next year] we are going to be opening up the 500 wing staff bathrooms during brunch and lunch times.”
Diane Jones, parent of three FUSD students, calls attention to the state law concerning transgender students. Established in August 13, 2013, AB1266 states that “a student has the right to participate in sex-segregated programs, athletics and to use facilities ‘consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records’ (Mercury News).” Because of this law, gender-neutral bathrooms will be built in in the new buildings.
“The new building will be equipped with gender neutral bathroom,” Musto said. “If people do misuse them there will be consequences. The biggest concern I have over gender-neutral bathrooms is the same as any other bathroom, which is graffiti. It [gender-neutral bathrooms] is certainly a topic that garners a lot of discussion, [but] it is not something that in my position to say is right or wrong because it is coming from the California legislature. It is my job and school board’s job to enforce the law of California legislature. I am sure that there are some parents who question it, but for the most part I do not think it will get much attention.”