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School builds unisex bathrooms for transgender students

The Oregon high school’s decision was called a ‘smart and compassionate’ move for transgender students.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Mar 27, 2013 6:06PM

Portland’s largest public high school has repurposed six bathrooms for “third gender” students, or those who identify as transgender, reports “Good Morning America.”  

“This (bathroom) issue requires us to consider the need to support our transgender students, while also doing our best to ensure the safety and comfort of all students,” Portland Public Schools' General Counsel Jollee Patterson wrote in guidelines sent to school administrators in 2012 on how to handle transgender issues.

“In no case shall a transgender student be required to use a bathroom that conflicts with the student's gender identity,” Patterson said.

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Scott Morrison, a senior at Grant High School who was born female but now identifies as male, told The Oregonian that he would avoid liquids during the school day because having to choose a gender-specific bathroom induced anxiety.  

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, applauds Grant’s decision to create unisex bathrooms, calling it a “smart and compassionate” move for the transgender students.

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“Any school worth its salt wants to be a safe place and welcoming place for every student,” Keisling was quoted as saying. “It’s really great. They came up with a really good common-sense solution.”

The project cost a few hundred dollars and will accommodate the roughly 10 students who are “out” as transgender.

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In 2007, Oregon passed the Oregon Equality Act, joining at least 15 other states and Washington, D.C., in offering some legal protection for transgender people.

“It seems like a really wonderful partnership between student advocates trying to create a safe space for transgender and nonconforming students and the school system to find a solution that will ensure folks can go to school and focus on learning,” Sasha Buchert, communications manager of Basic Rights Oregon told The Oregonian.

Tell us what you think: Is this a positive step forward?

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Photo: School installs unisex bathrooms / Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Aug 13, 2013 6:01PM
Is the transgender bathroom private or are there many stalls/urinals? I'm confused because I would have no problem with a transgender bathroom that is private.
Aug 13, 2013 5:59PM
What if this causes anxiety for the non-transgender kids? The article states that it caused anxiety for the transgender child but no concern is placed on those who might have anxiety about having the opposite.
Aug 13, 2013 5:54PM

In Europe theres unisex bathroom, why making it such a big deal? just do it!

Aug 13, 2013 5:38PM

Why does a person who has switched genders not use the facilities of his/her new gender?  Seems that they haven't quite made the switch, if they are still having "anxiety" over which bathroom to use.  Why is their problem ours?


In what way does a "unisex" bathroom with the symbol of both genders posted on the door solve the transgender, gender identification problem?  With two symbols on the bathroom door, the term should be multi-sex, bi-sex or trans-sex not unisex.  There is nothing uni or unified about transgendered people or duel symbols on the door.  Nothing like making a transgender student standout.  What is this nonsense about the third gender?  One is either male or female.  If you are going to have a third gender bathroom, then doesn't that violate the liberal principle of separate is not equal?


Why is it necessary to make special accommodations for people outside of the norm, who have made a personal choice for themselves?  It is up to them to fit in with their new identity, not for us to bend and blend to them


This whole transgender mess makes me sick.  How many more accommodations are they going to demand and how much more money are we going to have to pay to provide for their every need?


Aug 13, 2013 5:32PM
so stupid ...
if you have a dick you use the man's bathroom...period!!
not fair for the ladies...no privacy..

Aug 13, 2013 5:11PM
Another waste of both taxpayer dollars and Senators/Congressmen time when they should be working on fixing the economy. If you gotta go then go no matter what it might say on the bathroom door.
One other thing the Catholic Church is really going to have picnic over this one.

Aug 13, 2013 3:59PM
Why not simply make all bathrooms 'unisex'? Are we still so Victorian that we can't figure this out?
May 29, 2013 12:34AM
As a temporary measure, I think this is a good move. But in the long term, it would just be simpler to use this policy: "If you don't use the urinary, go to the girl's bathroom.". I mean, heck, in Europe I don't think they have separate bathrooms at all (I just looked it up, this is what I got: In the UK, for as long as there have been public conveniences, the law has said that ANYONE may use ANY public convenience, regardless of gender, provided that they are using it ONLY for it's intended purpose), it's possible, it's just social outrage from parents (and to a lesser extent, students) and etc we would be worrying about. More than anything however, this is something that will need to be addressed through gradual social development more so than setting rules.

Why do I say we need to work towards 2 bathrooms instead of 3? I'm thinking if transgender people are segregated in this manner for too long (by too long I mean at least a generation or 2), there might be, you know, segregation issues. :P

My opinion, long term goal: 2 bathrooms, rename girls bathroom "the bathroom", and rename the boys bathroom "the urinarys" (most of us can still call it the boys bathroom lol) . Most importantly, loosen up.

Just throwing my initial thoughts out there.
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