Debates are occurring across the country about bathrooms and how they should be used by people of transgender experience. Some states (like North Carolina) are attempting to pass laws that would require people to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth, regardless of how they identify today. Chicago has officially made their stance known – they’ll allow students and faculty to use the bathrooms for the genders they identify with rather than how they were assigned at birth. 

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Public Schools chief education officer Janice Jackson says the policies were put in place to “ensure every student and adult in the CPS family can participate in an environment of complete tolerance and respect. . . . It’s crucial for CPS guidelines to reflect our commitment to promoting safe and inclusive schools.”

While this is the most progressive one to date, this isn’t the first step CPS has taken towards making all of their students more comfortable. In 2014, they declared that transgender students should be provided with all of the same opportunities in extracurricular activities.

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The new policy also requires students to share hotel rooms on overnight trips with the gender they identify with or to be allowed privacy when needed.

“What we’re seeing around the country in some state legislatures is really an attack on LGBTQ students,” said Christopher Clark, a Lambda Legal attorney who worked with CPS on updating the policy, “and really transgender and gender non-conforming students.”

“Students don’t feel safe in restrooms,” he continued. “They don’t feel recognized for who they are. That immediately creates a problem for that student’s learning.”

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