I am writing in response to the letter by Tom Barker regarding a new gender-inclusive bathroom policy at Olympia High School. Barker said he would prefer OHS “keep it simple and just change the signs to biologically male or female bathrooms.” I disagree. Barker seeks to actively oppress already marginalized people by insisting that transgender people do not deserve the same opportunities for health and safety. Barker even clarified that he is speaking about “rights”- which means access to bathrooms in school are inherently justifiable to all people.
In our country there is a terrifying rate of violence towards transgender and gender non-conforming people. I know transgender youth who intentionally dehydrate themselves to prevent going to the bathroom at school due to the resulting harassment. I urge you to consider the unwelcoming environment of such schools to be an act of violence against trans students.
Gender affirming and inclusive policy is necessary because it supports the creation of safe spaces for people in our community. I am excited for OHS. Of course, policies need to be accompanied by education on identity and how to be an ally. I think it would be incredibly valuable if this education extended to families of students, too.