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Gender-neutral toilets, rethinking disability and being a gay Orthodox Jew: L.A. students write

High school can be a cruel place for an outsider. Students from High School Insider, a Los Angeles Times program where more than 100 Southern California schools contribute to High School Insider and post their stories on latimes.com, share what they would like to change for gay and transgender students and those with a disability. Read a selection of their stories below.


Monique Garcia, left, and Kween Robinson are part of the gender-neutral bathroom drive at Santee High School.

Don't freak out: It's just a toilet

Santee High School’s gay-straight alliance (GSA) launched a gender-neutral bathroom campaign called: “Don’t freak out! It’s just a toilet.” Kween Robinson reports that the GSA already has 400 signatures.

“Many students on campus feel unsafe and unwanted in the gender specific restrooms we have now,’” Kween writes. “A gender-neutral restroom is a place that anyone of any gender or gender identity may use. Gender-neutral bathrooms create private, individual space that are accessible to all people and are just as private as gender specific restrooms.”

Many students on campus feel unsafe and unwanted in the gender specific restrooms we have now.

Kween Robinson


This gay young man is not your accessory

It is getting easier to be openly gay, especially in California, reports Adam Green (Champs). But he faces a unique set of challenges.

“I went to an Orthodox Jewish, all boys middle school, where most people were either too sheltered or too ignorant to understand what it means to be a gay man,” he writes, “and I got teased and questioned a lot throughout those years.”

Now, he says, people are more welcoming, but generally society’s understanding of gay men lacks depth: “We are people with ideas, thoughts, emotions, and capabilities; some of us are good, and some of us are bad; we are complex individuals just like you and the rest of the world. We are people. We are not a sexuality.”

We are complex individuals just like you and the rest of the world. We are people. We are not a sexuality.

Adam Green


'I don't want any special treatment'

Brooke Pauley, who was born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, writes that she has been "pushing" every day of her life.

Brooke Pauley (Corona del Mar) knows she looks different from other kids when she runs, but she is tired of being misunderstood. Pauley was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy.

“I don’t want any special treatment,” she writes. “It’s embarrassing to not be able to construct a 3D model like other chemistry kids, and no matter how often I do it, raising my hand and in effect saying, ‘I can’t do this,’ always seems like a cop-out. I don’t want anyone’s pity. I’m not even totally comfortable writing these words. I don’t want to fly the flag for those with CP or disabilities in general. I hate that in many ways, my sister, who is two years my junior, has had to become the big sister.”

I don’t want anyone’s pity. I’m not even totally comfortable writing these words.

Brooke Pauley


Interested in getting your school involved with HS Insider? Write to daniela.gerson@latimes.com for more details.

Twitter: @dhgerson


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