"New Eastwood" Construction plans to include gender neutral restrooms

With the bond passed in 2016, the school will face numerous renovations including one addition of rather controversial origins: gender neutral restrooms.

In January, 2017, Texas legislators proposed a bill known as the Senate Bill 6, or the "Bathroom Bill," that established that people must go to the restroom of the sex assigned to them at birth, regardless of their current gender identification; however, the gender neutral restrooms have been included in the plans for the new building.

Principal Armenia Smith said that the bathrooms were never an issue, because they have been a part of Eastwood's remodeling plans since the beginning.

"We have these bathrooms planned in our construction because it might make it more convenient for a lot of people to go to the bathroom," Smith said. "It's just the way buildings are being built today."

On Feb. 2, seniors Christian Perez, Noelle Trejo, Ashley Franco and junior Karine Irwin were interviewed by KVIA news reporters regarding the unisex restrooms, and the segment aired on Channel 7 on Feb. 9.

Irwin said she thinks these bathrooms are amazing, because people will feel more comfortable using them.

"I think it's a great thing, everybody will be able to feel included," Irwin said. "I hope for more tolerance, for more people to be accepting of others."

Perez said that he thinks it's a good idea to introduce new things to the incoming students, because they will see it and think of the bathrooms as a new awakening.

"In my opinion, I think it's good because it's a new school and it's obviously going to bring different people," Perez said. "To begin with, they are going to be new to the environment, so seeing the restrooms will introduce them to the new norm. It's going to be a revolutionized society. It's a good start to the school, considering we're El Paso's Finest."

Franco said that those who seek these restrooms will appreciate them because they will feel welcomed.

"I feel those who need to use those restrooms will feel really grateful that they were included," Franco said. "I feel like that the restrooms would be cool. I have a lot of friends who identify as non-binary and who are trans as well. I feel like at their schools, if they were to put thought into that, they would feel really grateful too."

English teacher and GSA sponsor Sara Behrens said that Eastwood has a very accepting environment for everyone and problems with the bathrooms can be solved immediately if a situation rises.

"I'm hoping that the majority of students will be fine with it," Behrens said. "We tend to have a pretty tolerant and accepting student body here. I'm sure there will be a few students who are a little worried but I think any fears they might have could be quickly and easily alleviated."

Smith also said that she hopes that the press sends out a good impression involving the bathrooms on everyone and she wouldn't mind if people disagree with the decision to make these bathrooms a part of the new school.

"I hope that by the press coverage, others believe Eastwood is a tolerant and caring school," Smith said. "I hope Eastwood represents that. I still think people could criticize us for having that opinion and I'm okay with that because it's amazing how strong people feel about these issues and we are all just human beings. El Paso's Finest is what's inside and what's inside is the people, every person needs to be valued."