An Ohio school district is violating state building code and has spent more than $134,000 in legal fees on a permit to provide only gender-neutral bathrooms in six new facilities.
District officials also appear to have been deceptive in their handling of the project.
In late 2017 the Upper Arlington School District in the suburbs of Columbus passed a $230 million tax to rebuild five elementary schools and Upper Arlington High School. Construction on the project started in 2019.
The school board and Superintendent allowed five of the six new buildings to be constructed with only gender-neutral bathrooms, even though the Ohio Building Code mandates that any facility with “plumbing fixtures” needs to offer separate facilities for each sex.
A parents’ organization called the Upper Arlington Education Coalition is leading efforts to re-establish single-sex bathrooms to go with the new gender-neutral bathrooms. Cathy Pultz, who heads the parent group and has served on the Parent-Teacher Organization for 15 years, said the school district never let parents know about the gender-neutral restroom facilities until the fall of 2020.
The school district denies that it concealed its decision-making process from public and parental view.
According to Pultz, the district superintendent said the board voted in favor of an architectural design that had gender-neutral bathrooms, The Daily Wire reported.
Public permit records of the proposed building design submitted to the state, however, show multiple bathrooms identified as “men’s” and “women’s.”
The Upper Arlington School District went to the Board of Building Appeals in 2020 to seek a variance that would permit only gender-neutral bathrooms at Windermere Elementary School. The board denied the district a variance to install the restrooms, citing the requirements of current building codes.
The state’s building code also mandates that public facilities post signs that “designate the sex” of intended bathroom users.
“Signs shall be readily visible and located near the entrance to each toilet facility,” the code reads.