BFA-St. Albans gender-neutral restroom

The sign outside of a gender-neutral bathroom at BFA-St. Albans. 

ST. ALBANS — Bellows Free Academy recently took two steps to make the school a more inclusive place.

Single-stall restrooms were designated as gender-neutral, and educators are now utilizing technology to view a student’s preferred pronouns.

Nicole Schubert, math teacher and adviser for the Social Justice Club, said access to gender-neutral bathrooms has benefitted students at BFA.

“The intention of them is to be available to anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in a regular restroom or a multi-stalled bathroom,” she said.

Gender-neutral bathrooms can now be found on each floor of the science building, at the corner of the math and band hallway and in the connector next to BFA’s dean of students office.

“I think [gender-neutral bathrooms] make people feel safe, most importantly, [and] I know I’ve definitely been a person who hasn’t felt safe in a bathroom with multiple stalls,” Schubert said.

Recently, the gender-neutral bathroom in the south building has been locked due to vandalism issues. Schubert said she thinks the vandalism might be tied to a Tik Tok challenge called "devious licks," which incited kids to steal or destroy classroom property and post it online.

“The hand sanitizer was broken, and people have been writing on the walls in there, so now it’s locked,” she said. “But again, it’s still available, and I have students come in and ask me to unlock it, and it’s no problem.”

In addition to gender-neutral bathrooms, BFA's PowerSchool education software has been updated to allow a student’s preferred pronouns to be displayed.

“[The icon] pops up right away, it’s purple, it’s easy to see [and] it’s different than the other icons,” Schubert said. “I notice them immediately in all my classes, and I think it’s helpful for students. I [also] think it’s important for students to still mention [their pronouns] to their teachers at least one time, but hopefully, more teachers will be taking notice of that [feature].”

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