LGBTQ+ and non-binary students at ETHS push for more gender-neutral bathrooms


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

LGBTQ+ and non-binary students at Evanston Township High School have pushed for more gender-neutral bathrooms

Kaitlin Bender-Thomas, Reporter

LGBTQ+ and non-binary students at Evanston Township High School are advocating for additional gender-neutral bathrooms to create a more inclusive, streamlined environment. 

Jexa Edinberg, a non-binary freshman at ETHS, started a petition on in October 2021, and it has garnered nearly 400 supporters since.

The Evanstonian reported there are eight gender-neutral restrooms for the school’s students, less than the number of men’s and women’s bathrooms. With the limited number of gender-neutral options, Edinberg said they think the school underestimates how many students identify as non-binary. 

Edinberg said they started the petition because they got tired of waiting in long lines and feeling like they were missing class. They said at some points, they even tried to avoid using the restroom due to the inconvenience.

“I’m not a person who drinks a lot of water, but I was avoiding drinking more water,” Edinberg said. “Then I was a little bit worried about how that would affect me, so I tried not to do that.”

Elliott Jamieson, a non-binary junior at ETHS, said they were excited to use the gender-neutral restrooms their first year, but it became too much of a hassle. They said the gender-neutral bathrooms are not as easily accessible as the gendered bathrooms, which are located on every floor, and often require traveling greater distances and an access code provided through administration. 

Jamieson said they often experienced difficulty finding the gender-neutral restrooms and would get frustrated when they finally found one and entered the code, only to discover it was occupied. When that happened, they said they would spend even more time searching for another one on a different floor. 

“Sometimes my teachers would be like, ‘You were not in the bathroom because you have been gone for like almost 20 minutes.’ And I had to explain to them that, ‘Hey, I’m actually just going to go use the bathrooms that I feel more comfortable in,’” Jamieson said.

Due to the challenges Jamieson faced, they started to use the gendered bathrooms instead, despite feeling less comfortable in them. They said if the school had a gender-neutral bathroom on every floor, it wouldn’t make them feel “alienated” by their gender identity and would take a lot of stress off non-binary students.  

Amelia Anderson, a non-binary sophomore at ETHS, said although they feel comfortable using the women’s bathroom, it is not their preference. They said they addressed administration with their concerns about the limited number of gender-neutral bathrooms last year and was told that it had been discussed, but there is no clear plan. 

In an email to The Daily, ETHS said they were unavailable for an interview at this time but may have updates for the 2022-23 school year that they will share with students and families this fall.

Anderson said it isn’t the lack of gender-neutral restrooms at the school that makes her feel restrained but the fact that action has yet to be taken. 

“When the lady told me that it was just being talked about in concepts and nothing is actually being done, I think that makes me feel excluded or like it’s not as important,” Anderson said. 

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