The article Kicked out”: LGBTQ youths’ bathroom experiences and preferences by Carolyn M. Porta, Amy L. Gower, Christopher J. Mehus, Xiaohui Yu, Elizabeth M. Saewyc, Marla E. Eisenberg is devoted to the debates regarding the use of gender binary multi-stall bathrooms. There was no study conducted before with the aim to find out about the experiences of gender minority young people in relation to bathrooms use. The authors of the article have collected the qualitative data in the period between 2014 and 2015. Participants of the research were 25 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth aged 14-19 in America and Canada. In addition there are comments upon the first and second-hand bathroom experiences provided, related to advocacy efforts and considering of the roles of adults and peers for making bathrooms safe. On the basis of this research and data evaluation, the authors assumed that it is utterly important for policy makers, politicians, health professionals, school administration and parents to accept the fact that LGBTQ youth have the right to express their positions regarding bathroom use, and their opinions should be taken into consideration in order to secure social health and overall wellbeing in the society.
The young people underlined the meaning of gender –neutral bathrooms with the aim to support the sense of inclusivity and safety for all society members. According to the current research data LGBTQ youth are adhered to much more violence and harassment from the side of their peers in comparison to straight young individuals exactly due to their sexual orientation. The facts of violent treatment of LGBTQ youth are related to their skipping of schools, which leads to poor academic achievements, to lack of their psychosocial well being and ability to adapt in their societies. They tend to perceive most of the spaces within their school as being not safe for them and tend to avoid visiting bathrooms or locker rooms. In order to solve these and similar problems, it is important to obtain the needed information regarding the LGBTQ youth’s experiences and difficulties and then respond with the adequate programs and policies for the schools. “LGBT youth perceive a wider variety of spaces within a school as unsafe than straight cisgender youth, and bathrooms and locker rooms are often avoided, perceived as the least safe spaces in school. In another survey completed by 923 trans youth who lived in Canada, students voiced similar concerns.” (Porta et. al. 2017).
Qualitative research along with mixed methods were applied by the authors of the article with the aim to study the environments and resources for LGBTQ youth. The central issues of this discussion are related to the rights of sexual and gender minorities in the country. The responders of the research have confirmed that they would prefer single stall or gender-neutral bathrooms at their schools in order to feel safer and more comfortable there. At the same time provision of such bathrooms only for gender minority students would rather contribute to making them more isolated and tucked away in their school environments. Thus the ideal solution to the problem would be including the gender-neutral bathrooms into general school environment.
On the basis of these research results the authors of the article offered their approaches towards solving the problem. Ensuring that each of the students is able to find at least one supportive adult at the school, as this would contribute to making the LGBTQ youth feel safer and avoid being threatened at schools. “Given our ﬁndings, and the extant literature on supports for LGBTQ youth health, we propose the following strategies to ensure youth voices are heard and listened to in decision-making processes, and to act upon what we have heard from these youth regarding bathroom spaces.” (Porta et. al. 2017). The role of adults for creating a safe and welcoming environment for young people could not be underestimated. At the same time they could participate in advocacy practices beyond school settings.
Overall, the article stresses the importance of considering the interests of LGBTQ youth at schools, considering their opinions and ideas regarding the bathroom-related issues. Having clear understanding of their problems could be really beneficial for creating safer and better environments for all young people and avoiding of aggressive and suicidal behaviors there.
Porta, Carolyn M., Gower, Amy, L., Mehus, Christopher, J., Yu, Xiaohui, Saewyc, Elizabeth M., Eisenberg, Marla, E. Kicked out”: LGBTQ youths’ bathroom experiences and preferences. Journal of Adolescence 56, 2017