DENVER -- The Denver School Board on Thursday afternoon passed a resolution mandating at least one "all gender" (single occupancy) restroom at each school.
That resolution, on inclusion for LGBTQIA+ students, employees and community members, also states that the District supports the right to be "out," and open about sexual orientation, or gender identity, and to speak about their personal and family lives in the same manner as their non-LGBTQIA+ peers.
The measure passed unanimously at Thursday's board meeting.
"What this resolution does is affirm our support of our LGBTQAI+ community, and ensures that we're going to mandate every school have at least one of these restrooms," Board Member Tay Anderson said, "so no student (experiences) fear or intimidation of having to go into a gender-conforming restroom that they may not identify with."
Anderson told Denver7 that several schools already have all-gender restrooms.
"Some on the Evie Dennis campus in Green Valley Ranch have four (single occupancy restrooms) back to back to back," he said. "It's just like a restroom you would use at home."
When asked if there have been any issues at those schools, Anderson replied, "not that we've heard of."
"We are not an ideology"
"The misconception is a vision that it's some sort of free-for-all with this giant restroom, like at a football stadium, and everyone just going anywhere and doing anything," said Rev. Brad Laurvick, another school board member. "What we're talking about is the same kind of restroom I have at home... where one person is going to the bathroom in a room with a locked door."
"To me, it would mean comfort and safety," said Skylar Kasnoff, a transgender student at DPS, "not only for LGBTQ students but non-LGBTQ students as well."
Activist Amayas Gonzalez, who identifies as Trans-Queer, said they reported transphobia multiple times while attending school and nothing was done about it.
Gonzalez said there is hope that will change with the new resolution.
Levi Erickson, program manager of the LGBTQ Initiative in DPS's Office of Equity, said, "We are not an ideology. We are not a political stance. We're not a philosophy and we're not a morality to be debated, we are here. We are people and we exist."
Anderson said the easiest way to accomplish the goal is to take the faculty restroom on the main floor of each school, remove the faculty sign and install an "all-gender" sign, similar to what you see at many Starbucks coffee shops.
Laurvick said his church, Highlands United Methodist, recently converted all seven single occupancy restrooms in the church into "all-gender" restrooms.
"It cost us 7 cents," he said. "We just printed 'restroom' on 7 sheets of paper."
One Colorado, an organization advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans, says the DPS resolution will help combat bullying.
“While we all hope that schools serve their purpose as an incubator for creativity, connection, and learning, far too often they can be lonely or hostile places,” One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos said in a statement after the measure was approved. “This resolution is a much-needed step to protect LGBTQ youth, educators, administrators, staff, and parents from becoming targets of bullying and abuse. We hope that other school districts, all 177 other school districts, will follow the example set by Denver Public Schools and affirm their commitment to an inclusive, welcoming learning environment for all.”
Sheena Kadi, the deputy director, said the resolution is not a magic wand, but that by providing spaces where LGBTQ+ students feel safe, and by showing the districts supports those students, we should see a decline in bullying around the district.