Where do we go if we have nowhere to go?

9:08 in the morning; you’re sleepy, hungry, and in dire need of using the restroom. Even though it hasn’t even been ten minutes since your first class of the day started, the restrooms are open and better yet; completely vacant. If you attend Huntington Park High School, this might seem like fiction, but it’s a weird-to-imagine reality in some schools. In actuality, HPHS students usually have to wait until after class, in the five-minute passing period between classes, in a line with the many other students, who were also subjected to wait until the passing period, to a restroom that might be open. So, what exactly is up with Huntington Park High School’s restroom issues?

For as long as I could remember, Huntington Park High School has been riddled with problems surrounding its bathrooms and its ensuing policies. A Spartan Shield article from 2019 spoke about just that. The article specifically addressed the lack of available restrooms, making the ones that are available crowded and inaccessible for most. Though this article is almost three years old, allowing for more than enough time to pass for policies and bathroom accessibility (or lack thereof) to change, it doesn’t seem like much has occurred since then. 

Currently, the only relatively consistent open student-restrooms are the ones across rooms 24 and 25 and the ones in the A200s and A300s. I say “relatively” because not even these restrooms are open every day, every hour of the school day. Other restrooms are open on occasion, like the ones near the band room or the ones near the Miles entrance of the campus, but these are not nearly as reliably open as the A200s’ restrooms and the ones near rooms 24 and 25.

The lack of consistently open restrooms can make the restrooms crowded during passing periods and lunchtime. Students with stricter teachers can’t even think about going to the restroom during their hour-and-a-half class period, so passing period and lunch are some of the only times some students can use the restroom, not considering if they are in a club during lunch. Long lines and full bladders don’t mix, so having as many of the student bathrooms open during passing period and lunch can relieve the pressure put on the few that are open.

A recent addition related to bathrooms this school year has been the implementation of bathroom passes, though, the practicality of it isn’t as real as you might think. These passes have been enforced to help curb the number of students aimlessly walking around campus, though it doesn’t seem to be doing a good job at it, as some students are still caught walking around during class time for no rhyme or reason. The restroom passes only add more steps to the process of going to the restroom for students waiting to go. 

In the school’s ideal situation, one will ask to go to the restroom, be given the bathroom pass, and that person would write the date, their name, the time that they’re leaving, and have their teacher sign it before they leave to the restroom. You can probably see where this can become really impractical, really quickly. Not to mention the fact that there’s only one bathroom pass per classroom, so only one student can go to the restroom at a time. These mere minutes spent writing down all this information can be vital in an emergency bathroom situation, whether it’s the unexpected arrival of a period, an extremely full bladder, or last night’s asada fries pushing to make a second appearance, every minute counts. To make the logic behind these hall passes worse, many teachers don’t enforce having to fill out every single piece of the form, as they know that it takes up way too much time just to go use the restroom, so the existence of the bathroom pass is a lose-lose situation; it’s either thoroughly enforced, and you have to take a few minutes writing down your information, or you just take it to the restroom, rendering all the different sections of the bathroom pass form useless.

Another issue that is less talked about in HPHS yet still extremely important to students’ well-being is the lack of gender-neutral restrooms for student use. Trans and non-binary students are especially impacted by this absence, with many feeling uncomfortable using their assigned gender at births’ restroom, and/or feeling unsafe to use their identified gender identity’s restroom. “I don’t personally like using the female restroom” Saturn Santana, a non-binary junior at HPHS explained, “…but I have to.”

They’re not the only students to feel this way, and this often leads to a feeling of insecurity on their gender expression, adding “People are assuming that I’m a girl because I went to the female restroom.”

This isn’t a unique feeling for this one student, in fact, the GLSEN 2019 National Climate Survey found that over 45% of LGBTQ students surveyed said they avoided using gendered restrooms in school to evade social discomfort. One can argue that there are gender-neutral restrooms at HPHS, yet these are locked exclusively for staff and faculty use and consist of a single stall, impractical for mass student use. If the staff restrooms are unisex, what makes the student body undeserving of the same kind of utilities?

 While changes cannot be made overnight, some improvements can be implemented immediately, like opening up more student restrooms to reduce crowds, leaving restrooms open throughout the school day, relaxing the enforcement of bathroom passes, and clarifying if a gender-neutral restroom is for students or staff. Small changes like these can improve students’ feelings towards Huntington Park High School. We would finally be heard on an issue that we’ve been dealing with since at least 2019. In a school that prides itself on being inclusive and progressive, it’s ironic that there’s no place gender-non-conforming students can use the restroom, and that people on their periods can’t go to the restroom immediately, with no problem. This only prompts the hope that the upcoming modernization that HPHS will go through in the ensuing years will bring modern accommodations like a much-needed all-gender restroom for students.

Written by staff writer, Ryan Zuniga

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