Overcrowding leads students to ‘hang out’ in restroom

Leah+Burian+cuts+the+ribbon+to+open+the+gender-neutral+restroom+as+principal+Peyton+Chapman+%28left%29+looks+on+on+Nov.+22%2C+2016.

Yosie Caputi

Leah Burian cuts the ribbon to open the gender-neutral restroom as principal Peyton Chapman (left) looks on on Nov. 22, 2016.

Last November, Lincoln took a huge stride for human rights by opening its  own gender-neutral restroom. To many, it sounded like a blessing, showing the public how high schools are playing a part in the LGBTQ movement.

However, the bathroom is now illuminating another issue at Lincoln. The gender-neutral bathroom has also become a sort of de facto gathering place for students who want to socialize.

That’s because Lincoln lacks a space where students can relax together during free periods, before and after school.

“We should have places to talk to each other and that shouldn’t have to be bathrooms because that’s highly uncomfortable,” says sophomore Romy Rosen.

The leader of the bathroom project, Leah Burian, said she has seen an improvement. The first couple weeks were shaky, but now it’s a much lesser issue.

She did mention how Lincoln is scarce when it comes to recreational areas, but students must’ve found better places to be than the high school restroom. She believes this is due to the monitoring by the teachers in attempt to make the gender neutral bathroom more effective.

“The social studies teachers have been monitoring it and have been doing a really good job in making sure that people are in their use it for its purpose,” says Burian. “Now that it’s been a couple months and has died down it hasn’t really been an issue as I’ve seen.”

But that hasn’t really solved the larger problem.

“Really? Kids are hanging out in the bathroom? So that speaks to this idea that it would be wonderful to have spaces where [students] can sit and talk, in a way that would allow them to stay on campus,” social studies teacher Julie O’Neill says.

Some may think the need for a lounge for students is overstated, and that students do in fact have a place to go. For some, the library is always a good spot for students to lounge, and the cafeteria has numerous desks for friends to gather around and complete some work or have a friendly conversation.

However, the library is known as a hotspot for chaos in passing time, and is also crowded in the low hours, with students accessing printers, tutors and more. It’s nearly impossible at times to find a nice quiet area to sit down comfortably and pass some time.

In the cafeteria, there are many desks for students, but most  generally do not hang out there, perhaps due to its out-of-the-way location or reputation for having a lack of people.

While it may be difficult to carve out a lounge area in the current building, the bond measure on Portland’s May ballot offers some hope for the future.

If the bond measure passes, students will have an opportunity to weigh in their needs for the new school, says Principal Peyton Chapman.

She says planners have already concluded that the new building will feature a library and cafeteria twice the size as the current facilities. This could enable future students to hang out in different areas much easier, instead of crowding the restrooms.

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