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Gender neutral washrooms a possibility for Central Okanagan schools

This undated file photo shows signage for a unisex washroom. Gender neutral signage for single use washrooms could be coming to Central Okanagan schools.
Image Credit: Wikimedia commons
November 12, 2016 - 11:29 AM

KELOWNA - The protection of gender identity and expression in schools could mean gender neutral washrooms in School District 23.

The District Human Rights Committee has requested that School District 23's Board of Education take action to protect gender identity and expression in schools.

Part of these protections include implementing single use, gender neutral washrooms.

According to a memo from Superintendent Kevin Kaardal to the Board of Education, since an amendment to the Human Rights Code in July 2016, schools have been adjusting their codes of conduct and reviewing board policies. The update to the Human Rights Code included the protection of "gender identity or expression."

Kaardal says in the memo, the District Human Rights Committee requested the Board of Education make moves to address the "shortcomings that exist" in schools in respect to washroom facilities.

"In order to protect the dignity and privacy of all, we would ask the Board of Education make single use washrooms that exist in the district more accessible," Kaardal says.

The proposed changes would replace signage from "male" or "female" to the gender neutral "washroom" on single use facilities.

In many schools, this may require a simple change of signage, in other schools this might require renovations or updates to facilities.

The board can either approve, amend, deny the recommendation, or request more information from staff.

The board meeting will be held at the School Board office at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

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