Students Protest Gender-Neutral Restrooms In New York High School

Students at John Jay High School in New York’s Wappingers Central School District staged a mass walk-out on Monday in protest against the district’s decision to implement a shared restroom policy. The district’s move which was intended to promote gender-nonconforming acceptance has sparked a major debate throughout the student body.

The protest, which attracted a considerable number of students, was rooted in discomfort with the policy. “A bunch of people from our school, John Jay, feel uncomfortable. We want to change that and give them their own spaces to make us more comfortable and them more comfortable,” said Shauna Neilan, a student at John Jay High.

In response to the protest, students from a smaller counter-protest – largely organized by the far-left group Defence of Democracy – also gathered to voice their concerns. The students called for inclusivity, and for every student and faculty member to be made to feel safe emotionally and physically. Cory Pittore, a self-described gender-nonconforming student at John Jay High School told reporters “I feel as though that we shouldn’t be silenced no matter what. We are human, just like everyone else.”

Superintendent Dwight Bonk remarked that while the policy might be controversial, he said that they would uphold the district’s overall commitment to providing a safe school environment for all of its students, citing New York State laws requiring open access to restrooms regardless of gender. Although he did not deny the conflict, Superintendent Dwight Bonk told reporters that the district was committed to providing a safe educational environment for all students and that the school must abide by New York law which mandates students’ access to restrooms that their gender identity affirms. “We want to support all of their rights, but we’re also going to be following the proper protocol that we are responsible for following,” stated Bonk regarding the issues raised by the students.

The district’s decisions comes amid complaints about incidents involving gender-nonconforming students in school bathrooms, but Bonk said he was not aware of such problems and that the district must make sure every student going to school feels safe.

Along with male and female restrooms, John Jay High School has established a sex-neutral single-stall bathroom in the facility that any student can use. This policy of gender-neutral restrooms has been a source of concern by some students.

During the protest, students spoke out about how the policy would negatively affect their comfort and safety. Some students expressed concerns over sharing the restrooms and locker rooms with the opposite gender, reflecting the national debate on gender identity and privacy.

Moving forward, Superintendent Bonk indicated that students who participated in the protest would be subject to conduct-related conversations. This suggests that while the district is committed to upholding students’ rights, it also seeks to maintain order and discipline within the school community.

Going forward, Superintendent Bonk stated that students involved in the walkout would be subjected to conversations about their code conduct.