The Student News Site of East Grand Rapids High School

The East Vision

New guidelines aim to protect LGBTQ+ students

New+unisex+bathroom+located+on+the+second+floor+next+to+the+boy%27s+bathroom.+
New unisex bathroom located on the second floor next to the boy's bathroom.

New unisex bathroom located on the second floor next to the boy's bathroom.

Keaton Smith

Keaton Smith

New unisex bathroom located on the second floor next to the boy's bathroom.

Ashley Ward, Staff Writer

The State of Michigan Board of Education passed new voluntary guidance protecting LGBT students in public education, giving them a more comfortable place to learn and thrive.

Nearly nine percent of Michigan students identify themselves as LGBT students, and of these students, twelve percent did not attend school last year because they did not feel safe in doing so. This past March, the State of Michigan Board of Education approved new voluntary guidance in order to help create a comfortable and safe learning environment for LGBT students. These new guidelines provide schools with policies and practices that respect the rights of all students, including gay and transgender, and protect them from discrimination and harassment.

“The new school protection on LGBT students is definitely a really good thing” LGBT student Jordan Plumstead ‘20 said. “It helps the LGBTQ youth thrive in school and feel less discriminated and feel equal to non-LGBTQ students.”

This year, the East Grand Rapids school district has implemented the new protection of LGBT students by putting in a one-stall unisex bathroom in every building in the distict, in order to respect the rights, safety, and privacy of all students, regardless of a student’s identity.

“The district was engaged in learning and dialogue around creating safe environments for all students and specifically, LGBT students well before the release of the federal and state guidelines.  Plans for the bathrooms were in place prior to the State Board of Education approval of the new voluntary guidelines.  Each school worked and continues to work with each student and family individually to understand their needs and desires” Principal Fee said. “It was out of a desire to create safe environments for all students that led to the addition of the unisex bathrooms.”

Although the addition of the unisex bathroom is helping LGBT students feel more comfortable in a school setting, some people still believe this isn’t the best approach.

“I think the unisex bathroom is a good thing, but I feel like all students should be able to go into the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. I don’t think there should have to be a designated bathroom for gender nonconforming students” Plumstead said.

East Grand Rapids and the State of Michigan are headed in the right direction in terms of creating a safe learning environment for LGBT students.

“These type of things really help LGBT students, but the main factor if a student feels welcome or not is how they are treated by other students, not how the school district treats them” Plumstead said. “I definitely feel welcome here at East, but obviously not everywhere is as welcome as people are here.”

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