California's Long Beach Unified School District has approved several revitalization plans, including building an aquatic center and a new "all-gender" locker room for students at Wilson High School in Long Beach next summer. Funding for such projects are reportedly coming from Measure E, a $1.5 billion school repair and safety bond measure that was passed by voters back in November last year.
Parents, however, are concerned that an "all-gender" locker room would allow boys and girls to shower and dress in one space.
According to CBN News, Long Beach has a reputation for being LGBT-inclusive, as it allows students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. Students are also allowed to participate in sports teams and competitions based on their gender identity, not based on their sex at birth.
The Daily Wire reported that Wilson High School Assistant Principal Guillermo Jimenez announced to parents this week via email that there will be a virtual meeting to be held on November 30 to discuss the details of the new aquatic center, which "will feature an inclusive, all-gender locker room" that will be completed by Fall 2023 at Wilson High School.
Wilson High School newspaper Loudspeaker reported in January that the current facilitator of communication between various LBUSD departments, Shawn Abbate, is in the process of "working with the school district to create all-gender inclusive facilities." During a Zoom focus meeting discussing the need for such spaces, Abbate argued that these are created as "a safe space for people who might be otherwise uncomfortable." She added that they are currently studying "some of the problems that we have with current single-gender spaces."
Abbate said that privacy was a "concern for many students faced with the prospect of communal showers and large undifferentiated changing areas." She added that most individuals, regardless of their gender identity, do not want to change or bathe in open spaces where other people could see them. To address this, more individual changing stalls would be provided, as per the school paper.
At least one parent had opposed the new "all-gender" locker room proposal at the California school district, especially following the recent sexual assault cases in Loudoun County, Virginia, where a trans-identifying biologically male student assaulted a female student inside the school bathroom that he was allowed access to because of the school's transgender policies.
Similar changes are occurring in the Wickenburg Unified School District in Arizona, where the governing board approved upgrades for restrooms in Wickenburg High School, the Wickenburg Sun reported. The school district is set to spend an estimated $41,000 after parents and students voiced concerns over its policy allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. The school district then moved to install privacy strips in several of its buildings, gym lobby-commons, locker rooms, media center, vocational facilities and the field house.
Other safety features to be installed are Halo Smart Sensors in each of the restrooms, 360 degree "fisheye" cameras, and fixed dome cameras in the hallways. Wickenburg High School Principal Mark Gorman told the board that they approached the issue "from the angle that this bigger than just the transgender element" and that puts safety of the students first.