NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The North Kansas City School District is taking a different approach to restrooms in its new schools.
Students attending Rising Hill and Northview elementary schools this fall will use individual stalls in gender-neutral spaces instead.
“Schools have certainly evolved over time,” said Rochel Daniels, executive director of organizational development for the district. “We have more open concept classrooms. Our classrooms have community space within them, and restrooms have been a natural evolution as well.”
The district added gender-neutral facilities at its Northland Innovation Center three years ago. It was so successful the district decided all new construction would include the open concept.
“This concept is beneficial to all students,” Daniels said. “It affords for greater privacy, security and safety for students.”
The locking stalls have walls and doors that run from the ceiling to the floor.
“There isn’t that chance of someone peering above or underneath like there could be in traditional restrooms,” Daniels said.
The only interactions students will have in the space is when they’re washing their hands. Daniels said the concept is more efficient and allows teachers to better supervise their students.
“Supervision has been easier than ever,” Daniels said.
An unhappy parent contacted FOX4 claiming other parents would be upset with the new restrooms, but she declined an interview.
The district claims the open concept has been “well received.” FOX4 talked with several parents who have children who will attend the schools, and they sided with the district.
“As far as privacy goes, I’m not remotely concerned,” Marco Gonzalez said.
“I don’t really see a downside to it,” Amanda Shanks said. “I don’t see how it could be harmful or disrespectful to anybody. If anything, I think it’s more respectful and open.”
Shanks said she's all for breaking down barriers and stigmas and believes the restrooms will make kids feel more comfortable.
“Children go through life changes throughout their development and I think that we should be more accepting and have empathy for students of all backgrounds,” Shanks said.
She wants the concept to take off across the metro.
“I would love to see that idea grow and expand to other districts in the area,” Shanks said.
The new renovation at North Kansas City High School will also include gender-neutral restrooms in addition to the traditional restrooms already at the school.
In a statement to FOX4, a district spokeswoman wrote:
“North Kansas City Schools has not adopted a policy regarding gender-neutral facilities specifically, but the District does have, and has had for many years, a policy in place which serves to protect all students from discrimination and harassment. The District, the Board, and our staff are committed to ensuring that students feel safe and respected within our school community.”
The district welcomes any parent with concerns to contact them to see the space for themselves.