ETHS begins implementing transgender locker room policy


Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The school has begun implementing its transgender locker room policy — passed in May — that allows students to use the locker room of their choice.

Amelia Langas, Assistant City Editor

Following the enactment of its transgender locker room policy in May, Evanston Township High School/District 202 began allowing students to use the facility of their choice this fall.

Students who transition from the gender they were assigned at birth can fill out a form to change their official record and pick the corresponding locker room at school. The District 202 board voted six to one last spring to pass the new policy after months of deliberation and community advocacy.

Prior to this year, students had to use the facilities consistent with their biological sex, said Taya Kinzie, associate principal for student services at ETHS.

“We discussed the changes (with students) as well as the adjustments within our facilities to allow for the need and desire for increased privacy,” Kinzie said. “We can address everyone’s desired support and concerns as well as our commitment around safety.”

To begin the process of changing a student record, Kinzie said an individual must fill out a Student Advocacy Form. According to the school’s website, the form asks students to indicate their name and gender as well as whether they want access to more private facilities.

After students submit the advocacy form, Kinzie said she reviews the application and works with students on a “case-by-case” basis to formulate a plan that provides the requested support and privacy.

She said although the school has always supported inclusive messages, instituting the new protocol will solidify the school’s values and create a “safe and affirming” learning environment for students regardless of gender identity.

Kinzie added that she is in touch with the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance student group and the LGBTQ staff advisory committee. This ensures that both student and staff perspectives are represented as the district continues to implement the policy, Kinzie said.

Asher White, an ETHS senior who is transgender, said the policy is a “great” improvement from what it was in the past.

“I’m really happy with the accommodations for the most part that they’ve granted trans and gender-queer kids,” White said. “It’s been really successful and really nice.”

So far, the policy has been well-received by both the board and administrators, said District 202 board president Pat Savage-Williams.

However, she added, it is still in the early stages of implementation and the district isn’t “above” reaching out to other schools that have successfully produced similar policies for advice.

White said she had been advocating for policy reform since sophomore year. She said she campaigned to get the board to pass a concrete code on the locker room status of transgender students because the old guidelines were “hazy.”

But, White said, there is still some room for improvement. Some students may be hesitant to talk to adults about their identity — a requirement for choosing a locker room — which is something she said the administration should keep in mind.

Overall though, White said she is happy with the locker room policy. Prior to this year, she had only been able to use “locker room number three,” which she said was “dehumanizing and alienating.”

“This year I’ve been using the girls locker room like all the other girls and it’s been really validating and really normalizing,” White said.

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Twitter: @AmeliaLangas