Dec 7, 2021 - News

Gender neutral bathrooms arrive at CPS

Gender neutral bathroom sign.
All CPS schools are required to post gender neutral signage on their bathrooms this month. Photo courtesy of Chicago Public Schools

Gender neutral signage went up in Chicago Public School bathrooms last week to allow students to use facilities that align with "their gender identity and comfort."

Why it matters: It marks another CPS move to comply with U.S. Department of Education Title IX protections against discrimination. But some have opposed or ridiculed the policy.

How it works: All bathrooms must now have signage indicating they are "open for use to anyone who feels comfortable in that space," CPS spokesperson Mary Fergus tells Axios in a statement.

  • "Single use restrooms are also available for anyone who prefers that level of privacy."

What they're saying: Axios heard a range of opinions from Chicago area students and parents, reactions ranging from happiness and cautious optimism to fear and discomfort.

  • "It wasn't a big deal when the signs went up," a freshman at Jones College Prep who wished to remain anonymous tells Axios. "Most people I know don't have any problem with it."
  • "Our Rainbow Tribe club is actually working on getting these at our school," says Eva E., an 8th grader at Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park. "So I'm really glad Chicago schools are already doing it. That's great."
  • We also talked with a CPS 8th grade girl and high school junior boy who said they felt uncomfortable with the policy in theory, but admittedly hadn't noticed differences in who used the bathrooms yet.

By the numbers: A 2019 National School Climate Survey reported that among transgender students in schools:

  • 42.5% felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
  • 45.2% avoid school bathrooms because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

What's next: CPS says it's taking feedback on the policy at [email protected].

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