Mineral County to re-outfit restrooms for more privacy

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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KEYSER - The Mineral County School system is working on a plan to upgrade restrooms in the middle and high schools to allow for more privacy between stalls and urinals.

Superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft announced Tuesday that the upgrade is one of several things the county staff is working on in response to the recent concerns over transgender students using either the boys’ or girls’ restroom at Keyser High School.

Prior to Ravenscroft informing the KHS administration last month that their policy was against a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, they had been requiring transgender students to use a separate restroom either in the office or the library.

The subsequent announcement at KHS that transgender students would be allowed to use whichever restroom that matches the gender they identify with touched off a storm of debate at the last board meeting and on social media.

According to one LGBTQ+ student who spoke with the News Tribune, the controversy has sparked numerous fights at the school.

Ravenscroft said the county officials started looking at the school’s restrooms in response to the concerns.

“We noticed that generally, the restrooms are not as private as they could be,” he said. “Regardless of the issue, most public restrooms, whether it’s in the hall or anywhere, don’t offer much privacy. But modern facilities have much taller dividers that go not all the way from floor to ceiling -  you can’t do that because of cleaning - but they offer way more privacy and you can’t see in the crack of the door,” he said.

“So we’re working with our architect to develop a project to re-outfit all of our facilities anywhere that would require more privacy.”

Ravenscroft said, even though he himself went to Keyser High School, he never really noticed until now that there are no dividers between urinals either.

The county is looking into the projected cost of re-outfitting the restrooms.

“It will take time as we gather info and put it out for bid, but we’ll work on it as quickly as our supply chain and installation will allow,” he said.

Ravenscroft also said safe schools coordinator John Wilson has been at the school and meeting with students, staff and parents about concerns that have arisen not only about the transgender bathroom issue but additional concerns that have come to light about bullying between LGBTQ+ students and those who do not agree with their lifestyle.

“He’s been trying to get as much information as he can,” Ravenscroft said.

“Our legal counsel was also here last week and we had a training for our principals and counselors. It was really in-depth training on Title IX, gender-related topics, and a host of other changes,” he said.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or educational facility that receives federal money.

Liz Beavers is a veteran writer and managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune. To reach out to her with a story idea, email lbeavers@newstribune.info.