New building at BHS to have all-gender restrooms

The newest building on the Bainbridge High campus will have gender-neutral restrooms when it’s constructed — making BHS one of the first schools in the state, and the first in Kitsap County, to have all-gender bathrooms.

Work on the new BHS 100 Building is set to start June 24, according to officials with the Bainbridge Island School District. Approved designs of the new 100 Building at Bainbridge High show the restrooms will have an “inclusive design.”

“Inclusive designs,” according to the school district’s consultants on the campus renovation project, are those were the restrooms are set off with signs that do not identify male or female access and are void of gender identity. Inclusive restrooms also benefit transgender populations and those who do not identify themselves as male or female, as well as the elderly, people with disabilities, and parents who want to accompany their children to the bathroom. None of the individual toilet rooms will have urinals.

District officials said the design of the main BHS 100 Building restrooms took into account the issues of privacy; safety and security; signage; and health, hygiene and acoustics. The BHS 100 Building currently houses the high school’s fine arts, special education program, and career and technical classes.

The layout of restrooms in the 100 Building will have individual stalls with full-height doors and floor-to-ceiling partitions. Across from the stalls will be a row of shared sinks, and the restroom will be open to the hallway on two sides, with no doors at the entrances. Additionally, two toilet rooms for people with disabilities will have individual entrances with doorways that open directly into the hallway.

Few high schools in the Pacific Northwest have gender-neutral restrooms.

The design of the BHS restrooms generally follows the layout of gender-neutral restrooms at Grant High School in Portland, Oregon.

Another exception is Vashon High, which was the first public school in the state to have all-gender restrooms. The school renovated its restrooms last year after a student-led initiative.

Those facilities also have higher partitions and no-gap privacy guards, as well as removed entry doors. The urinals were also removed from the school during the renovations.

The Edmonds School District also recently opened a new school with all-gender bathrooms, said Tamela Van Winkle, director of Facilities, Operations and Capital Projects for the Bainbridge Island School District.

The Bainbridge Island School Board was briefed earlier this year about the design of the restrooms in the BHS 100 Building.

Van Winkle said the design of the restroom and the two entrances will allow later changes, if desired, such as the addition of a wall that would split the restroom into two bathrooms.

“We want to be very flexible in the design so that we have options in the future,” Van Winkle said.

The restrooms will abide by new regulations adopted by the city of Bainbridge Island last year that requires single-occupant restrooms to be marked with gender-neutral signs, she said.

Demolition of the existing 100 Building is expected to start in July and continue through August. Construction of the new building is planned to start in September, with construction wrapping up in November 2020.

The new BHS 100 Building is expected to cost $27.8 million to construct. The total project cost for the 100 Building is $39 million.

The first bids for the project were approved by the school board in April; the second bid package is expected to be approved June 11.

Voters approved a $81.2 million bond measure in February 2016 to pay for a new 100 Building, as well as a new elementary school to replace Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary.

Rising constructions costs, however, prompted the school district to go to voters in February for a $15 million capital levy to pay for the completion of the 100 Building, which included transforming the current commons into an auditorium.

Conversion of the commons area in the 200 Building into a performing arts theater will begin in January 2020.

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