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Kenosha SDS wins demand for gender neutral bathrooms on campus

By Adelana Akindes |
September 10, 2019
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Wisconsin SDS protest.
Wisconsin SDS protest. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Kenosha, WI - Just in time for the new semester, Students for a Democratic Society at UW Parkside came out victorious in their gender neutral bathrooms campaign from the previous semester. Four bathrooms were converted on campus to support the trans and gender non-conforming community, a demand which some students have been proposing for several years.

Before, there were only two gender neutral bathrooms on campus located on the opposite ends of campus. This was an obstacle for transgender students taking classes in the central area of the university, as the only gender neutral bathrooms were inconveniently far. Many trans students had spoken up about this issue in the past, but to no avail.

The first step of concrete action began last October, during SDS’s protest of Brett Kavanaugh’s inauguration and a call for transgender rights. Members of SDS, with Rainbow Alliance, an LGBTQ+ organization on campus, marched to the administrative offices to put real pressure on administrators, who had been avoiding the bathroom proposal.

SDS put the fight for gender neutral bathrooms at the forefront and it became their campaign for the spring of 2019. After tabling events, petitions, and with a constant back and forth with the administration, they finally agreed to order new signs for the bathrooms. However, the school delayed the process.

Ariana Holmes, an associate member of the chapter, had her doubts about the administration’s promise to take action.

"At first, administration seemed keen on working with us. However, with it being March and them saying the signs would be up in 12 weeks at the latest seemed really sketchy, as that would fall at the end of the semester. Our concerns seemed to prove true."

What should have taken a few weeks became several months. The signs were finally put up on August 21, after SDS threatened action against the administration for not following through on its promises.

This semester, SDS activists at Parkside are working towards getting a food pantry on campus to address the growing food insecurity of students, many of whom are from poor and working-class backgrounds.

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