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Redwood Bark

Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Molly Gallagher April 18, 2024

On Wednesday, April 17, the boys’ varsity tennis team dominated their match against Archie Williams in the semi-finals of the Marin County...

Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Emma Rosenberg and Penelope Trott April 18, 2024

On April 18, the girls’ varsity lacrosse team battled against the Branson Bulls in a blowout senior day matchup. Prior to the start of...

 embracing his coach senior Auden Braden celebrates his final MCAL regular season game
Boys’ volleyball dominates Marin Catholic on Senior Night
Richard Byrne April 18, 2024

On April 17th, the boys’ varsity volleyball team faced off against Marin Catholic (MC) in a Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) game. The...

Redwood’s gender-neutral locker room struggles highlight facility gaps

Redwood provides nonbinary and transgender students unrestricted access to its locker rooms in compliance with Federal and state laws. However, these students typically use the two gender-neutral bathrooms in the small gym instead. These are small, single-use bathrooms, so there is often a line for them, which can cause students to be late for class. For these reasons, Physical Education (PE) teacher Nicole Graydon has been attempting to locate a better space for a gender-neutral locker room.

Small lockers in Redwood’s gender-neutral locker rooms limit nonbinary students’ ability to store personal items during PE or team practices.

“I spent the beginning of this year conversing with admin and [Tamalpais Union Senior Director of Student Services] Dr. Jeanine Evains-Robinson trying to find a bigger gender-neutral space. We couldn’t find one that was Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant,” Graydon said.

Another problem is only one of the gender-neutral bathrooms contains lockers, and these lockers are not big enough to hold standard-sized backpacks. Redwood has approved larger lockers but they have yet to arrive.

“We’ve been working for a long time to get bigger lockers in the nonbinary bathrooms,” Graydon said.

These inadequate facilities disadvantage nonbinary students. To access the bathrooms, they must walk through the small gym in their PE uniforms or swimsuits while a class is in session. If a class is not occurring, the small gym remains locked, leaving students outside waiting to change until it’s unlocked. In some cases, students opt not to change their clothes at all for PE class, impacting their grade. These issues not only affect PE students but also student-athletes.

“We have nonbinary and transgender athletes on our sports teams, and they don’t have anywhere to change before games. They can’t change with their teams after practice if they’re not comfortable. It’s a scramble every time for some of those kids,” Graydon said.

Using the regular locker rooms is not a viable alternative as students have expressed discomfort disrobing in front of their gender-neutral and transgender peers.

The boys’ locker room contains many lockers, all sizable enough to fit normal backpacks.

“Knowing that there’s a biological male that’s changing in a locker room where I am changing is very uncomfortable,” an anonymous female student told 7News reporter Nick Minock in Virginia. Similarly, an anonymous Vermont father conveyed his son’s embarrassment at sharing the boy’s locker room with a biological female.

“It’s about being uncomfortable changing in front of the opposite sex, period,” the father said.

Senior Wesley Wihlborg agrees that California’s legal requirement to share a locker room with gender-neutral students could create an awkward environment.

“I definitely think [the law] should work differently,” Wihlborg said.

California’s Long Beach Unified School District addressed this concern at one of its high schools by designing private stalls large enough for individuals to change and shower in. However, this locker room project was put on hold in 2022 when Breitbart News Network reported that some parents feared students would be in “various states of undress” together in the locker room. Graydon agreed that teens may not be mature enough to use gender-neutral locker rooms.

“I’m not sure we’re ready for [private changing stalls in shared locker rooms] at high school age groups,” Graydon said. “It opens up the whole [issue of] vaping and drug use.”

Parents are also worried that students could suffer unwanted advances or invasion of privacy by gender-neutral teens, even though there is no data to support this concern. On the contrary, a 2019 study by the National Institute of Health found “[students] whose restroom/locker room use was restricted were more likely to experience sexual assault compared to those without restrictions.” 36% of trans teens who were subjected to bathroom or locker room restrictions reported being a sexual assault victim in the prior year. This compares to 26% of youths with unrestricted access, 15% of cisgender girls and four percent of cisgender boys.

Infographic by Linnea Koblik

  The number of nonbinary and transgender students at Redwood is increasing and there has been no progress on these issues, leaving teachers like Graydon frustrated. 

“We’ve known that we’re going to have more [students] who are going to need [gender-neutral] space, and we’ve been asking for it for a long time,” Graydon said. “We’ve been brushed aside and we just want things to be equitable for our students. Everybody deserves a safe place to change.”

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About the Contributors
Michael Seton
Michael Seton, Reporter
Michael is a senior at Redwood High School and a reporter for The Redwood Bark. He likes anything to do with space, rocketry and AI technology. In his spare time, Michael also reads a lot, runs for fun, and plays video games.
Alex Argov
Alex Argov, Staff Photographer
Alex Argov is a senior at Redwood High School and is a staff photographer for the Redwood Bark. He enjoys basketball, surfing, listening to music and spending time with friends.