New gender-neutral bathrooms in Rochester middle school drawing attention

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester’s brand new Dakota Middle School features gender-neutral bathrooms for students, with the topic blowing up on social media.

At the middle school, the bathrooms feature small rooms instead of stalls that can be used by everyone.

“Until you see it and you can lay eyes on it and understand it, you’re not gonna fully get the grasp of it,” said Alison Saugen-Smith, who’s son attends Dakota Middle School.

Each unit has floor-to-ceiling walls with doors facing an open hall, allowing more supervision into the bathrooms.

“A lot of the traditional behaviors that sometimes do happen in a bathroom facility, they aren’t happening because you’re alone in your own individual bathroom,” said Principal Levi Lundvak, who fully supports the new bathroom design.

However, some on social media say the new concept is wrong, but most people did not have children that attend the school.

Many parents think the new bathrooms will only have positive impacts on the students and school environment.

“The kids aren’t gonna be bothered. They don’t need to worry if someone’s gonna come in and say something, bully them, pick on them,” said Saugen-Smith. “They can be safe in their own little spot to get in, go to the bathroom, and get out. Wash their hands and get back in the class room.”

Other moms agree.

“I think it’s much safer than a lot of the other bathrooms might be because it’s so open. If there was something quite awful going on, it would be found out and dealt with,” said Marian Aanerud, who also has a son that attends Dakota Middle School.

The parents say their kids are fans of the bathrooms as well, including Saugen-Smith’s son.

“He is completely unaffected by the bathrooms, he’s like ‘who wouldn’t want their own private area to go’. Like I said, get in, do your business, and get out and go on with it,” said Saugen-Smith.

Saugen-Smith says it’s a beautiful school and that it is sad that people are so focused on a bathroom.

“The privacy has been wonderful for all students and it’s simply that you don’t have anyone bothering you. If you’re having a bad day and just need a moment to collect yourself, you have that private space,” explained Principal Lundvak.

There is another section of bathrooms at the school. They feature the same open concept, but are labeled with a section specifically for boys and another for girls.