On January 23, Denver Public Schools (DPS) board members voted unanimously to require all district schools to provide at least one gender-neutral bathroom in each facility. This makes DPS the first district in Colorado to go forward with the inclusive change, which could take effect next school year. Since most schools already have an individual or family restroom, signs will simply be changed from single to all-gender.
The board resolution also supports student and employee expression of gender identity or sexual orientation, allowing teachers to hang rainbow flags and students to self-report their gender identity to the district without parental consent.
This new measure follows DPS’ November 2019 resolution that promises to acknowledge the preferred pronouns and names of students and faculty, even if they have not legally changed their personnel records. Board member Tay Anderson championed this resolution on his campaign trail after hearing frustrations from DPS parents and students.
“I’m proud that DPS is the first district to do this, but I don’t want it to be the last, so I’ve been challenging other districts to adopt the policy to make sure that they’re affirming their community,” Anderson says. “We need to be doing the work to make sure that every student understands, in DPS, we have your back.”
Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, believes the district’s resolution sends a very firm statement. “We know that LGBTQ youth tend to miss more days of school because they’re too afraid to go,” Ramos says. “So, for the district to affirm the LGBTQ community and outline some guidelines to create a safer, more welcoming learning environment is a really important first step.”