Let’s make sure design of new schools meets all students’ needs



June 11, 2019 - 10:22 AM

For decades, laws have required public restrooms to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. This includes establishing larger stalls and lower sinks for handicapped individuals who could otherwise not utilize the facilities. Many restrooms today even feature changing stations for parents with young children. 

Along these same lines, K-12 schools have made similar accommodations for children, with changes to schools’ structures as well as the nature of instruction. Special education techniques, online education, homeschooling and trade courses have been specifically designed to be offered, providing ways to meet the diverse needs of today’s students. These compliances have clearly made learning spaces more accepting and amenable, but there are still several more steps we can take.

Our school district could take an obvious step forward by installing universal, private, gender-neutral restrooms available for students and faculty in every building. Psychological conditions such as paruresis (often known as “shy bladder” syndrome) and parcopresis (a psychogenic condition in which a person is physically unable to defecate while in the presence of others) affect some students. These conditions, matched with unaccommodating spaces, can cause students mental agony and a definite lack of usage. This, in turn, causes students discomfort, dehydration, and a lack of attention to school work.

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