Burlington debates future of gender roles

Emmy Furman, Ad Manager

The future of signs such as this could see a dramatic change as gender takes on many different meanings. (Brylee Davis)

    If one lives in the 21st century, [they] have probably heard of old-school gender identities being thrown out the window. Society today is becoming more open-minded to different identities, and the separation of sex and gender.

   Burlington may be a small town, but many students at BHS hope to see changes within the school to fit the needs of all students, regardless of how they identify.

   An obvious topic that comes to mind when talking of gender neutrality is bathrooms. Senior Allie Schneider raised awareness of low availability for this. “Certain things can be pushed back in budget for this change. What should come first should be the needs of students,” she said.

   Principal Stacy Reed pointed out that the superintendent has a capital outlay list of needed repairs that sometimes extends out 10 years.  “There are often unforeseen situations like a leaky roof that have to be moved up in order of importance.”  All suggested projects must be approved by the school board, superintendent, and building administrators.

   Fundraisers by clubs like GSA could be a viable option for getting money to change/build these restrooms.

   An anonymous source also noted, “[There will be money spent] for better bathrooms at the baseball fields, so why not [in] the high school?”

   Another hot topic is the inclusion of transgender people (especially women) in sports. Coach Michael Vander Linden expressed concern in regards to wrestling.

   He feels the same as Sylvie Legere who said, “‘Sports competitions and leagues should no longer be gender-based; rather, they should be based on the athletes’ sex chromosomes…. It would only be fair and nondiscriminatory to let holders of Y chromosomes compete against each other.’”

   On the other side, an anonymous source told this reporter, “Trans athletes have been forced to disclose that they are trans in grades 7 through 12. Sometimes cis girls lie about other cis girls [being trans] and they have to undergo a genital check [at other schools].”

   Another way that BHS can become more inclusive for all genders is including preferred pronouns next to students’ names in the directory, according to senior Destiny Pride.

   “Teachers should be okay with asking students what their pronouns are,” [they] added.

   [They] also said some people are still stuck on only using he/him or she/her pronouns instead of gender neutral ones like they/them.

   One concern with using the singular “they” pronoun is that it used to be (and still is by some organizations) seen as grammatically incorrect. The Oxford English Dictionary is now accepting the use of singular “they,” but MLA and journalism AP Style do not.

   English teacher Devra Parker told this reporter, “I believe as an educator, it is my job to be inclusive with everyone, and that means I can no longer demand he or she in a singular case but [also] accept they.”

   Of course, when the topic of gender barriers come up, one may think of dress codes.

   Many students have asked, “Does a guy wearing a dress violate the dress code?”

   Athletic director Dave Watkins has the answer: “The first question we would ask the students is ‘Why?’’’ he said. Administration would then decide if the student was dressing this way to make a mockery of someone else, or because [they] truly felt it expressed [themselves].

   Sophomore Teagan Harris agrees that if a boy wants to dress more femininely, he should be able to.

   Eric Pabon, junior, says, “It should not affect another person so much to where he/she feels the need to harass someone.”

   Many students agree that gender acceptance is a need in this school. Senior Chloe Medlock says, “Gender is a social construct.”