The Central Okanagan Board of Education’s decision to make sex-specific individual-use washrooms in local schools gender neutral is being praised by the the Okanagan Pride Society.
Society president Dustyn Baulkham said LGBTQ+ students in Central Okanagan schools may now feel a little safer after the board approved a motion to make signs on all “single-use” bathrooms gender neutral.
“This sends a really strong message of encouragement to our youth within the community” said Baulkham.
“Schools can be a tough place for LGBTQ+ youth and the simple act of choosing a washroom can be filled with anxiety for people who are not comfortable using facilities with the all-to-common male-female signage. This will hopefully help alleviate their concerns.”
The move to change single-use washrooms signs to reflect gender neutrally was initiated by the the school district’s human rights committee. The board approved the motion in a unanimous vote.
School districts in several other Canadian cities have made similar moves, including some districts in the Toronto and Ottawa areas.
Several Canadian universities have also added gender neutral signs to washroom facilities on their campuses.
Baulkham said the decision by the board of eduation reaches beyond the Valley’s LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s also a great message for all youth and parents in the district.,” he said.
“It says that our schools are open, safe, and inclusive spaces where people can express their true self and be who they really are.”