nova bathroom interview with eyva by eve

The bathrooms we have at Nova are a little different than most schools for a variety of reasons. The first one being that our bathrooms are not gendered, instead we simply have a bathroom labeled “With Urinals” and a bathroom called “Without Urinals”, as well as the gender neutral bathroom that is for single person use. I personally like this a lot and thinks it contributes to the overall safety of our school. Many of the students at Nova are transgender, genderfluid, don't identify with any gender and etc…. At many other places they are faced with the decision of what bathroom they “have to” use, and can be met with injustice from strangers who don't understand that person's situation. Being able to walk into any bathroom and feel comfortable says a lot about the environment we have here:super welcoming and accepting. The single bathroom is also super nice because not every person is comfortable using the bathroom around other people. It allows people the resources to use the bathroom in any way that fits a person's needs and comforts. And unlike any other place I've been, every one of our bathrooms is like this. I've seen lots of gender neutral bathrooms at other schools, but there is only maybe one or two. This kind of defeats the purpose because you draw a lot of attention walking in and out of the only bathroom labeled differently. I personally don't know why bathrooms ever need to be labeled, we’re all in separate stalls anyways!

    The next thing that's a little different than many other schools is the resources available. In every bathroom stall, regardless of if it’s a “Urinal” stall or not, there are tampons and pads, so everyone has access to what they might need in any bathroom they decide to go in. This again is super helpful because since they are in the stalls, you don't have to feel uncomfortable walking down the hall with a tampon in your hand. Everyone is different and for some people, having to get what they need from a public place can be very hard. Another fact about it is that the resources are free; no $.25 dispenser that barely works. Some people misuse the supplies and will waste them and here’s a reminder to remember that some people may really need to use what you are just unwrapping and tossing on the ground.

    The Nova bathrooms don't have doors. I mean of course there are doors on the stalls, but there is no door to get inside, it’s an open hallway that has a row of sinks intersecting the two sides of the bathroom (With and Without Urinals). When I first came to Nova, this was a little weird to me, but being here and getting used to it, I like it. It contributes to making the bathrooms a very welcoming place. Walking in and out is easy and there's no gross door handle you have to touch.

    Overall I'd say that the Nova bathrooms are the most accepting, welcoming bathrooms I've been in. Nobody is worried about which bathroom to use or has to be embarrassed about their own needs. All of the bathrooms we use are shared with the teachers  (like most things at Nova),, so it doesn't set us apart from the adults we share the building with.

Here's what one of the Nova bathroom creators, Eyva, had to say on the subject:

“In a legal sense it’s a state law to not discriminate against transgender students in any aspect of their education including feeling comfortable using the bathroom. It's a protected right we have and it has been reaffirmed by our school board and has been a policy at Nova long before either law or policy. Schools should be a place where everyone feels safe using the public spaces. If students are uncomfortable using a shared space they always have the single stall bathroom, which we have labeled as all gender bathroom. Everyone is free to use the all gender and/or unlabeled bathrooms so it’s not weird and no one is marginalized for their choices. When we were designing the building the architects met with Action Faction and we tried to have only single stall all gender bathrooms, but it was too expensive. We fought to get it and settled with all gender bathrooms to be used by anyone and the additional other bathrooms be as open and safe as possible. We were never told there would be urinals at all or pants and skirt symbols on those bathrooms. Students changed the signs immediately when we moved in. It is important that people have the dignity to not feel ashamed or policed by others with their daily activities. The last couple years many public high schools have gotten recognition for their recently installed gender neutral bathroom, but not us. We want to honor that we have the oldest all gender bathroom in Seattle Public Schools by making a plaque with its story which we will put on the all gender bathroom by Mike’s room. This bathroom used to be called the glorious pumpkin room, because of its lovely pumpkin colored paint but it was truly glorious because it was a symbol of Nova’s commitment to students being safe and school that students of all genders belong here!”