Mounds Park Academy’s Gender-Neutral Bathroom Initiative

February 2023 Issue

Max O’Connor, Writer

Last year, the middle school GSA, headed by Arlo Dickson (’26) and Cosmo Vanzyl (’26), began to campaign for change with the goal of implementing gender-neutral bathrooms at MPA.  

“It’s important to have a gender-neutral bathroom initiative at MPA because the trans and queer community at the school deserve a space where they can feel respected and safe,” explains Vanzyl. Although MPA has two existing gender-neutral bathrooms, they are out of the way and often inaccessible for trans and gender non-conforming students during the short five-minute passing time. 

 The initiative’s hopes to replace or repurpose existing bathrooms to be more welcoming were met with wide support. “We made a petition, to just see how many people would be in support of this initiative and it got a lot of signatures,” reports Vanzyl. Although their cause was supported by most Middle School and Upper School faculty, staff, and students, they fell short of their goal before the year was up. Which was disappointing for all, especially for Cosmo and the other leaders: 

 “We didn’t really see any progress which was really unfortunate especially because there was such an overwhelming wave of support from both the students and the faculty,” he explains.  

However, the groundwork of spreading information and raising interest last year has paid off this year as the Gender-Neutral Bathroom (GNB) Initiative is making real progress. 

While the Initiative still hopes to change MPA’s bathrooms from single gender use to gender neutral, they’ve adopted short and midterm goals including installing menstrual product receptacles in all bathrooms, converting an already existing single stall bathroom in the family commons to a gender-neutral bathroom, and promoting education about trans and LGBTQ+ issues and the GNB initiative. These goals are being actively supported by the administration and the school board. “They’re a step along the way to make MPA more inclusive for all gender identities,” says Ian Frankel (’24), one of the Upper School GSA and GNB Initiative leaders.  

This progress has been monumental for leaders of the GNB initiative, who are inspired by watching their goals fold out in front of them. “This initiative has been at the school […] for quite some time. And now, we’re finally getting to see some progress with that. I know myself and a lot of my friends feel like our efforts are paying off. […] We’re seeing progress, we’re seeing the administration get involved, seeing that the teachers and the board actually do care about our community,” says Vanzyl.  

If you’re interested in supporting this cause, the initiative’s leaders encourage you to attend meetings, learn more about this topic, and to reach out to them with any questions or concerns. Because, as Cosmo says, “Cis people are the majority, but they should not be prioritized.”