Santee Education Complex , a Los Angeles school, opened a 15-stall gender-neutral washroom to accommodate transgender students Friday. The move came amid a heated debate in the U.S. over transgender rights over the last month.
The school converted an existing restroom into a gender-neutral restroom after 700 hundred students signed a petition calling for change after North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” sparked nationwide protests. The bill, which banned transgender people from entering bathrooms if their gender did not match their birth certificate, was later watered down by Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, after harsh criticism from celebrities, businesses and human rights groups over the issue.
"It was important for me and students to have a safe space on campus," Alonzo Hernandez, a student at Santee told NBC. "There are [students] out there who are transitioning who don't identify themselves as a gender."
The restroom reportedly has had its sign changed to reflect it is now gender-neutral.
Elise Hill, a spokeswoman for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which runs Santee, told Reuters that it was believed to be the first gender-neutral school restroom in a public school in the state and among only a few nationwide.
The move followed a similar announcement by the White House , which assigned a gender-neutral restroom for visitors and staffers earlier in April.
On Wednesday Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an anti-discrimination order protecting the rights of gay and transgender employees working for the state offices or state contractors.