Chancellor Fariña Announces Single-Stall Student Restrooms Initiative

  • Posted: Tue May 02, 2017 Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018

Every School Will Designate a Single-Stall Restroom for Student Use by January 2018. New Facilities Will Provide Additional Privacy for All Students

NEW YORK – Chancellor Fariña today announced a new citywide initiative to designate single-stall student restrooms in all New York City schools. Single-stall student restrooms will provide schools with an additional facilities option to support the privacy needs of students, including those with medical conditions and disabilities, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming students. 

These facilities provide an additional safe space for students and do not require special permission or medical documentation. Single-stall student restrooms are aligned with the DOE’s Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines, which permit students to use all restrooms and other school facilities that align with their gender identity. Single-stall restrooms provide students with an additional facilities option and will be available in schools citywide by January 2018. 

“We are dedicated to providing every student with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “As part of that commitment, we want to ensure that all students receive the additional privacy they need and have access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity.” 

“Being cognizant of the hostile learning environments that can exist for gender non-confirming students, as well as students with disabilities or medical conditions, NYC has enacted the single-stall initiative to ensure our children feel safe and have a healthy learning environment,” said Chirlane McCray, First Lady of NYC. “This initiative should serve as a reminder that the needs of all students deserve to be met - in the absence of a distractive bathroom experience that can impede academic achievement. We will continue to find ways to enhance NYC schools to make it possible for students to thrive in dignity and reach their full potential.” 

“Everyone in New York City deserves safe and equal access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity and expression. It’s the law, no questions asked,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis. “Having an all gender restroom option other than the girls’ or boys’ room is important for the comfort and safety of students, particularly trans and gender non-conforming students and anyone who wants additional privacy for any reason.” 

The DOE’s Division of School Facilities will work with custodial engineers and principals at each school to identify an existing single-stall restroom in their building that can be converted for student use. The first phase of the rollout will begin in May and will be completed by June 2017. The remaining buildings will be completed by January 2018. All schools are being provided with detailed guidance, including an in-depth FAQ document on privacy and safety protocols, student access and appropriate terminology for describing the restroom to students, staff and families. Additionally, detailed information on the initiative is being backpacked home to families. 

“Nothing is more important than ensuring our students feel comfortable at school and are ready to learn,” said Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose. “Over the next several months we will work with individual schools and principals to ensure all schools can properly meet the needs of students who would like additional privacy.” 

“Single-stall restrooms will make schools safer for all students,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “No one should ever feel shame or fear discrimination and violence when using a restroom. For many disabled, transgender and gender-nonconforming children and young people with medical conditions, this simple act can be a traumatizing experience. I am proud to support this initiative which removes a major barrier to learning and recognizes the dignity of these students.” 

“Designating single-stall restrooms across the city’s schools is a welcome move that will enable transgender and gender non-conforming youth to use a facility for the most basic needs without fear or intimidation, as well as improving access to facilities for children with medical conditions or disabilities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “This initiative is particularly welcome at a time when we continue to see bullying against LGBT kids in schools, and a rollback of protections at the federal level for transgender and non-conforming people.” 

“Our schools need to be welcoming, safe places for every student, and that’s not just a matter of policies and training, it’s a matter of our physical facilities as well,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Students with privacy needs should have access to single-stall restroom facilities. I thank the Chancellor for committing to get this done.” 

“The Gender & Family Project applauds Chancellor Fariña and everyone at the DOE who has worked to ensure that all students have the appropriate facilities to use,” said Benjamin Davis, Deputy Director of the Gender & Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. “Using the bathroom is necessity – availing students of a single stall option allows them the opportunity to meet their most basic needs without threat of harassment, violence, or intimidation. For transgender and gender expansive young people who, out of fear, often go the entire day without using the bathroom, this step not only helps to mitigate anxiety, but also medical complication, academic underachievement, and social ostracization.” 

Each restroom will include clear and appropriate signage, safety locks with administrative keys and free menstrual hygiene products in buildings serving grades 6-12. In July 2016, the New York City Council passed legislation requiring all schools with students in grades 6-12 to provide free tampons and pads to students. 

This year, the DOE released updated Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines that provide schools with additional guidance to promote the educational and social integration of transgender and gender nonconforming students, and ensure a safe learning environment free from discrimination and harassment. The guidelines were initially introduced in 2014 and have since been updated to include guidance on supporting transgender or transitioning students, appropriate pronoun usage and updating personal and pupil records to reflect a student’s gender identity. The new guidelines also include stronger language on restroom and locker room accessibility, requiring that transgender and gender nonconforming students be provided access to facilities consistent with their gender identity. Clear examples have also been added to advise schools on possible existing gender-based policies and practices that might create gender segregation. 
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