Berkley’s New Gender Neutral Bathrooms


If you’ve been keeping up with the Spectator this year, you’ve probably caught on to the multitude of changes Berkley has been adopting. The newest addition of which is gender-neutral bathrooms. This new policy was first introduced in November and includes converting two formerly gendered bathrooms into restrooms that accommodate all. The movement for these accommodations was sparked by Iris Macauley, a Berkley senior who both empathizes and advocates for inclusiveness throughout the school. Even though Iris only has the remainder of their senior year to appreciate the changes they’ve enacted, they report being excited and grateful that the opportunity to use bathrooms comfortably can be passed on to future students. Of course, this new policy required thorough preparation before execution, and Berkley principal Mr. Meloche was eager to explore how to best accommodate students’ needs. According to Mr. Meloche, two of Berkley’s 20 student bathrooms have since been updated to become gender-neutral, but this was no simple feat. Mr. Meloche recalls the process “start[ing] a while back,” noting that it was initiated by “a discussion with BHS’s GSA (gay-straight alliance),” which was the first to advocate for the necessity of gender-neutral restrooms. After meeting with Mr. Meloche, GSA members began researching possibilities and eventually produced a presentation that was passed on to the district’s Superintendent. From there, the school board met to discuss implementing the bathroom changes, which the Superintendent could now vouch for, thanks to GSA’s presentation. Once the plan was fully approved, Mr. Meloche reported that “BHS sought bids from contractors and made the necessary renovations” to the two bathrooms. When we asked Mr. Meloche to provide some insight regarding the difficulties of the process, he provided that “the struggle was just the timeliness.” Mr. Meloche continued to elaborate that “projects and initiatives in school can take a long time because there are so many stakeholders involved.” Mr. Meloche summarized that “it would have been great to implement this years ago” but understood “the importance of educating everyone about something before jumping in.” In a month or so since the movement’s implementation, Mr. Meloche mentions that he’s “been very pleased with the number of students and staff using the bathrooms.” Adding that “[He] worried that people would be too afraid to use them. However, the opposite has been true.” Students can attest to Meloche’s sentiment. Whether it’s a manner of convenience, identity, or anything in-between, gender-neutral bathrooms have been a win for everyone. Mr. Meloche finalizes that “the biggest takeaway from something like this is to take your time, educate everyone, and make sure you’ve got a solid plan.” As for other schools looking to implement these changes, Mr. Meloche recommends they “talk to their students and get their thoughts on the matter.” Adding that “student voice should always be one of the most important drivers of school change.”
I’d say students’ approval of this new addition to Berkley High is echoed by Mr. Meloche, who says: “I think [change] is something we do well here and one of the reasons I’m proud to work here.”