Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 917–930

Gender Identity Disparities in Bathroom Safety and Wellbeing among High School Students

Empirical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0652-1

Cite this article as:
Wernick, L.J., Kulick, A. & Chin, M. J Youth Adolescence (2017) 46: 917. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0652-1


By examining the relationship between trans identity, bathroom safety and wellbeing among high school students, this article empirically investigates how educational institutions operate as sites through which gender is negotiated in ways that are consequential for trans youth. We draw cross-sectional survey data, from a multi-school climate survey (n = 1046) conducted in the Midwestern United States, to examine three aspects of high school students’ wellbeing: safety at school, self-esteem, and grades. The sample included students in 9th–12th grade who identified as trans (9.2%) and cisgender (41.2% boys, 49.6% girls), as well as LGBQ (21.6%) and heterosexual (78.4%). Most respondents were monoracial white (65.8%), monoracial Black (12.4%), and multiracial (14.1%). Using mediation and moderation linear regression models, we show that feeling safe using school facilities helps to explain widespread inequalities between trans and cisgender students. Based on these results, we suggest that in order to address disparities in educational outcomes between trans and cisgender students, as well as to improve student wellbeing in general, policies and practices need to ensure that all students have the right to safely access bathrooms and school facilities.


Transgender Bathroom access Cissexism School climate Wellbeing Students 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Fordham University

    Copyright information

    © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

    Authors and Affiliations

    1. 1.Graduate School of Social ServiceFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA
    2. 2.Department of Sociology, Social Sciences & Media Studies BldgUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
    3. 3.Graduate School of Social ServiceFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA

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