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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Little Village Lawndale High School Students Push To Reopen Locked Bathrooms

District leaders aren't saying why some bathrooms closed, but students say it was to stop vandalism and smoking. Students say they have to choose between being late to class or not using the restroom.

Students said the four men's restrooms on the second floor of the school have been closed since last month, but administrators reopened two Tuesday after student demands.
Provided/Leila Gutierrez
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LITTLE VILLAGE — Students are pushing to reopen locked bathrooms at Little Village Lawndale High School, saying the closure of some campus bathrooms has led to unnecessarily long wait times.

School and district leaders aren’t saying why about half of the bathrooms for males closed, but students say it was to stop vandalism and smoking. Sophomore Leila Gutierrez and junior Ángel Naranjo launched a petition this month to demand the restrooms be reopened.

To date, the petition has garnered 280 signatures from fellow students and Little Village neighbors.

The campus at 3120 S. Kostner Ave. houses four schools that serve 1,200 students: Multicultural Arts High School, World Language High School, Social Justice High School and Infinity: Math, Science, and Technology High School.

There are four bathrooms each for males and females on both floors of the building. Those facilities are spaced out on different sides of the building, Gutierrez and Naranjo said.

All the restrooms were open in fall when school started, but students said administrators gradually closed off all the restrooms for males on the second floor. Only the first floor restrooms were open for males, Gutierrez and Naranjo said.

Funneling all male students to limited restrooms means people often have to wait in long lines during a five-minute passing period, the students said. This leaves students to choose between potentially being late to class and earning a detention or not using the restroom at all, they said.

“It’s just another way to criminalize or police students,” Gutierrez said.

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said the closure was a “temporary … school-level decision based on the safety and security of students and staff” but did not directly address why the bathrooms were closed.

“Our school leaders are always eager to work with students, parents and faculty to suspend immediate measures in favor of a comprehensive response and long-term solution to any safety issues that led to a temporary closure,” a CPS spokesperson said in a statement.

Gutierrez said it’s frustrating when the school makes decisions that affect students’ lives without taking their input into consideration.

“We’re completely disconnected,” Gutierrez said. “Our ideas and our thoughts are constantly shut down.”

On Tuesday, after Block Club reached out to the district, Gutierrez and Naranjo said two bathrooms were reopened.

“It’s progress,” Naranjo said. “But we’re not stopping until they’re all open.”

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