Loudoun County Public Schools

Loudoun Schools Plans to Shift to More Private, Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

School district hopes to curb issues like vaping, vandalism, drug use and assaults in restrooms

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A Virginia school district plans to shift to more private, gender-neutral bathrooms to help address a broad array of issues.

Multi-stall bathrooms are ripe for trouble like vaping, vandalism, drug use and assaults.

Loudoun County Public Schools began making changes in 2021, when new state guidelines led to a policy to provide private bathrooms for transgender students. Now, LCPS will start building and piloting more private bathrooms.

“How do we improve safety and privacy in our restrooms? And so, I’ll say we don’t have the perfect solution right now but we’re working with a lot of our stakeholder to design a solution that will work for our kids and our staff,” acting Superintendent Daniel Smith said.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin endorsed private bathrooms in schools during CNN’s town hall last week when a transgender student asked a question about restroom use. 

“That’s why I have said many, many times we just need extra bathrooms in schools,” he said. “We need gender neutral bathrooms, and so, people can use a bathroom that they are comfortable with.” 

In Minnesota, Saint Paul Public Schools began converting restrooms in 2021 with a dozen of its buildings offering private, gender-neutral restrooms.

“There’s a lot more privacy, and you just feel comfortable and you just don’t have to worry about, like, little things you’d have to worry about in a traditional restroom,” one student said.

In Loudoun, some private bathrooms already have been added to all schools. High schools have an average of six. Private shower and changing rooms are also added. 

LCPS administrators visited the new Meridian High School in Falls Church, which opened with private bathrooms.

“We want to engage our stakeholders so we can make the right decision,” Smith said. “We want to try some of this out at some pilot schools to see what might be working and also see if there are some unintended consequences there as well.” 

Smith acknowledged private bathrooms can be ripe for issues, too. Technology like vape detectors or special supervision might be considered as well.

By 2024, reviews on the pilot will be in, and LCPS will decide which restroom will work best moving forward. LCPS is already building private restrooms into the design and construction of its new schools.

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