NEW JERSEY (WTXF) There's a new sign hanging inside the hall of a Camden County high school. It's for a gender neutral bathroom and it's the result of a petition created by a Cherry Hill East senior. He wanted a bathroom where students of all genders could feel safe. Now the school has just that.
"It's great. It's like my work finally coming to an actual physical accomplishment," said 18-year-old senior Jake Hershman.
He got good news today when he walked into Cherry Hill East.
"Everyone really responded really well and seemed really accepting of the bathroom. Overall it was very positive," he said.
Jake, who is Co-President of the Gay Straight Alliance, led the cause to get a gender neutral bathroom for certain groups of students who said they'd experienced problems using the regular bathrooms at school.
"In our Alliance we have a lot of gender non-conforming and transgender people who had issues and spoke up about issues they've had in the bathroom such as harassment," said Jake.
So three weeks ago, he started a petition to gage support for a single-stall bathroom with a lock and signage that students of all genders could use without fear or concern. He said about 300 of the school's 2,000 plus students signed it and school administrators gave it the okay.
"A lot of times people just associate the LGBT community with just gay and lesbian people but it's really bringing attention to the transgender, gender fluid and the non-conforming community that have been ignored for so long," said Jake.
Jake's mom says it's been a learning experience for her and she's proud of what her son has done for himself and fellow students.
"I didn't understand it so for me I needed to be educated about how do people feel. I just thought who you are is dictated by the skin that we're in so where you go to the bathroom, okay I go to a ladies room and Jake goes to a men's room. I didn't think that there was this in between so I'm glad I know now," said Jennifer Hershman.
A spokesperson for the school district says the bathroom was previously a faculty bathroom. Now it can be used by all students including those who identify with a gender other than what they were born.
It's the first of its kind in the district.