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17-year-old pushes for equality, Detroit Lakes High School establishes gender neutral bathrooms

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—A Detroit Lakes school will soon have gender neutral bathrooms available for transgender students, or anyone else who needs it and it's thanks to one high schooler pushing for equality.

Detroit Lakes High School is actually the second school 17-year-old Jaylen Block has pushed to get a gender neutral unisex bathroom, the other was Frazee High School.

She says as a transgender woman, it's something that needed to be done.

It's something as small as a sign, but has the potential to make a world of difference for some students.

Jaylen Block said, "I'm glad I'm making a difference for the people who are going to come after me. I want them to feel safe at school, I want them to feel like their education is important, no matter who they are or what they are."

Soon, Detroit Lakes High School will change an old staff bathroom to now be labeled as gender neutral/unisex.

"I said to the school, it's 2017, and you're one of the only schools in the area who hasn't done this. We need to make the change," said Block.

Jaylen is transgender and felt it was a necessary step for the school to take, which is why she started talking to counselors and school administrators to push for the change.

"It feels great. But at only 17, I'm changing the world. Even if it's in this little community - doing what I can is amazing," said Block.

Jaylen's advocacy isn't going to stop.

"Everybody has a voice, some people just don't know how to use. But, I'm strong and independent - so, I will do my best to get what's right," said Block.

She's going to continue to try and make the world a more accepting place.

WDAY did reach out to the school, but we did not hear back.

Jaylen did tell us the school is just waiting on signage, and this change should be implemented in the next few weeks.

Cassandra Rohlfing

After working part time at WDAY-TV during her college career, Cassandra – who goes by Cassie, joined the WDAY news team full-time in January as an Online Editor/Weekend Producer. She switched over to Reporter/Multimedia Journalist in June and is excited to work on stories you want to see!  She was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, ND and is part Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Cassie graduated from  North Dakota State University in December of 2015 with a degree in Journalism, and an emphasis in Broadcasting. Cassie bleeds green and gold and is an avid Bison Football fan who attended every home game in her college career, thanks to being a part of the Gold Star Marching Band. Her hobbies include binge watching TV shows on Netflix, attempting to work out, and getting outside when she can. If you have any questions/story ideas feel free to email or call. 

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