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Mount Greylock Looking at Ways to Clarify Bathroom Signage for Public
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:41AM / Thursday, January 30, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School has no plans to replace gender-neutral bathroom signage installed at the renovated and expanded middle-high school, the district superintendent said on Wednesday evening.
It does want to temporarily supplement the current "Toilets" and "Toilets and Urinals" signage on restrooms used by the general public during events at the school, Kimberley Grady said.
"My intention as the superintendent of Mount Greylock Regional School District is to be inclusive to all, and that means our students, our staff and our guests in the broader community who come to our school," Grady said. "We want them to feel welcome when they have to go to the bathroom and not confused when looking for a bathroom or scared when they come out of the bathroom."
To that end, Grady wants to create temporary signage that can be posted on lavatories near the gymnasium and auditorium during athletic contests, performances or other occasions that draw large crowds from outside the school.
She is sending a survey to the school community to seek feedback on what such temporary signage should say.
Grady does not want to take down the current "Toilets" and "Toilets and Urinals" signs that are well understood by members of the immediate school community, as was suggested in an email that is circulating through the Mount Greylock community, she said.
The unsigned email that appears to reference the school's Gay-Straight Alliance says, in part, "It has been decided by our superintendent that beginning immediately our non-binary bathroom signage will be replaced with binary girls/boys signage once again after multiple complaints from parents seeing a student of the 'wrong gender' in the 'wrong bathroom.' "
The email goes on to "make noise" about this step and accuses the superintendent of "decid[ing] to settle for pleasing one specific group of people."
Grady on Wednesday said she never intended to replace the signage. Rather she wants to augment it on the two specific restrooms on a temporary basis.
Grady also clarified that she is not aware of any incidents of a Mount Greylock student picking a particular bathroom for nefarious purposes -- for example, of a male student using a facility more frequently used by female students for prurient reasons.
And that is not what is driving the current proposal to post temporary signage.
Grady said that since the school opened, some "unofficial" paper signs already have been taped to the wall during events to designate lavatories as either "Men's" or "Women's" rooms. But those signs have not been posted by the administration.
She recognizes that at events like a basketball game or last weekend's Mountie Invitational wrestling tournament, the school is opening its doors to people who are unfamiliar with the concept of using "Toilets and Urinals" or "Toilets" as designations, and the school needs to be sensitive to that.
"Our job is to be inclusive to everyone," Grady said. "We're not saying: Take the [current] signs down.
"When we have guests in who haven't had the opportunity to learn about the progressive signage, we need to meet those needs as well."
Grady agreed that having the temporary signage to clarify the "Toilet/Toilet and Urinal" language posted during events could help educate visitors about the more inclusive, gender-neutral designations.
"In 2018 [when the new school opened], there was tons of negative rumbling about the signs, but we kept them and worked through it," Grady said. "We as a smaller community worked through it. … We didn't work through it for all of Berkshire County."
She noted that even the county's other recently opened high school, Taconic, has inclusive signage for its restrooms but does not use the "Toilets/Toilets and Urinals" terminology. So it is no surprise when parents and grandparents don't know the terms when they come to watch their kids play basketball or wrestle.
Grady said Wednesday that she hopes to sit down with the school's chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance on Thursday to talk about the situation and get feedback about what sort of temporary signage could be used to supplement the school's signs.
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