I am trying to design a "progressive", every high schooler's dream high school/boarding school where grades 9-12 attend (but could make it just the more senior years if that would work better). Through this setting one of the concepts I'm trying to explore is the opposite of gender segregation i.e. having coed dorm rooms (2 students to a room) available for students (they can choose non-coed rooms also), mainly for plot/world building reasons, but also because I think it is an interesting concept to see how this could realistically work if implemented, either now or in the near future.
Based on my research the main reasons this isn't widely implemented (even at most colleges/unis):
- Hygiene eg. boys at the height of "sexually discovering themselves", girls challenges with menstrual cycles
- Privacy/modesty eg. most girls especially would not be comfortable rooming with another boy, let alone a random one they do not know because simple things like getting dressed each morning would suddenly become embarrassing especially if the roomies start to gossip about each other
- Parent concern eg. most parents would not provide consent to allow their kid to room with someone of the opposite gender to prevent distractions, unwanted pregnancies etc
So looking at these 3 factors, I may be missing something, but the bottom two feel quite a bit old fashioned and contradictory in many ways. Here are my reasons. In regards to modesty/privacy, public baths/showers are already very common for all ages (although they are gender specific). With gender specific showers and toilets in place (separate to the dorm rooms), I find it hard to believe that some kind of solution couldn't be added into dorm rooms to make getting dressed more private eg. a modesty screen, some kind of alcove etc?
The parent concern I understand, however where this is contradictory to me (at least for the senior years) is that the majority of students will be exposed to parties and other social activities which have similar if not worse threat of debauchery. Of course the main difference is that it isn't on a daily basis. But I wonder if the fact that should this become a daily norm, whether it would normalize and trivialize such things similar to how society opinions of modesty change when it becomes more common place eg. when the bikini first came out it was considered scandalous, but now no one cares.
Hygiene is definitely the toughest one and I can't see any real solution to not make it awkward/ uncomfortable, other than relying on the student's maturity, educating them and putting certain rules in place. Although that said, I think this one has the potential to be very embarrassing whether rooming with the same or opposite gender, and plenty of boarding schools already exist with kids rooming together.
Looking at what currently exists that is similar; in the past few years there appear to have been some boarding type schools that introduced coed dorm rooms (mainly to cater for LGBT). But as far as I can see the arrangement was each student having their own room, which wouldn't work in my case because a lot of the dialogue and characterization happens in the dorm rooms, and I would prefer to avoid monologues.
So is there a way to make this kind of setting work semi-realistically or should I rethink things?
Existing Culture/Ethics My thoughts were that this would be an international type school open to elite students from anywhere in the world. Assuming they are able to pass the entrance exams. So the culture would be quite diverse and multicultural, hence the option to choose between coed & non-coed. Due to the "exemplary student" nature of the school I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore some more progressive ideas on how a high school should be and how it's students should be treated i.e. NOT as immature, irrational kids who have no control over themselves, their actions and are incapable of making mature decisions.
Dorm Rules I have very little knowledge of how to design a high school (hence the reality check) but below were my initial thoughts on how this could work. 3 main sections including a non-coed female dorm, non-coed male dorm and coed dorm. Students would choose whether to live in a coed or non-coed dorm, and require parental consent. The roomies would also be chosen as roomies, not based on any relationship status. I thought perhaps roomies would be chosen by the school itself by default, with an option to change in very exceptional circumstances. The changing of dorms would be strictly limited to prevent chopping and changing, firstly by school rules but also by limited availability of spare rooms, which I imagine would also make sense financially? Students would also go through a thorough induction style education piece when commencing to understand the above. Any kind of "bad behaviour" I imagine would be punished similarly to any other high school i.e. detention, suspension, expulsion etc. And due to the elite/exemplary nature of the students I would imagine this would assist in the rules being followed, since the amount of effort required to get in, wouldn't be worth the risk of getting suspended or worse.
Answer Goals What would generally need to be in place for a modern day high school to be able to function with this kind of feature? Whether that be rules and education (to guide the students), processes or policies (to enable the school to deal with any issues easily and efficiently), facilities or building design/layout (not sure why this is necessary, but most dorms are very specific about their layouts and where they put coed and non-coed dorms and rooms).
I would like to reconfirm (for some) that this question is in no way about encouraging sexual activity or creating some kind of bizarre love hotel. Please do not comment or answer with this kind of mind set as it adds no value to the topic and misconstrues the aim. There are many modern day contexts where coed rooms exist (see answers below for examples). The intention is to explore how a world can be setup where a similar arrangement exists in a high school like dorm, nothing more.