HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hanover County Public Schools recently released the design for a new elementary school, which will be one of the first schools in Virginia to have gender-neutral bathrooms.

Hanover County residents are able to see the renderings of the new John M. Gandy Elementary School after the county decided to consolidate the current Gandy Elementary and Henry Clay Elementary Schools. The county plans to welcome students at the new school in the 2024-2025 school year.

John M. Gandy Elementary will be the first new school built in the county since Laurel Meadow Elementary in 2008. Construction is set to begin in the fall of this year.

The renderings show that this school will be one of the first to have single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms in the state. Residents of Hanover County have expressed opinions for and against the new bathroom models.

A digital rendering of the gender-neutral bathrooms that will be built in John M. Gandy Elementary in Hanover County. Credit: Hanover County Public Schools

The school division has undergone controversy in the past year after they voted to disapprove a proposed nondiscrimination policy that would have protected transgender and nonbinary students.

As mandated by state law, the policy changes were supposed to go into effect at the start of the school year in 2021. Since the division voted against the ruling, they were out of compliance for months.  

8News spoke with officials of Hanover County Schools about the new bathroom design.

“The primary goal of this design is to increase student safety, which is of paramount importance to us, and decrease potential damage to restrooms. For instance, we anticipate this design will help reduce instances of bullying, fighting, and vandalism that occur in these areas,” Hanover Schools Spokesperson Chris Whitley said.

Hanover Schools did not address how the bathrooms would impact gender inclusivity.