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Transgender students get protection in Toronto schools while MP introduces anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’

Saturday, October 6, 2012

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada — The Toronto District School Board announced Thursday that it has introduced a new set of guidelines to ensure transgender equality for students and staff in the district’s 600 schools.

The new rules specify that administrators and other staff must keep a student’s gender non-conformity or transgender status confidential and should never disclose it to a parent or guardian without consent from the student.

In dialog with transgender students, the guidelines suggest that the best option is for staff to privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in school, and in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the parents.

The guidelines also state dress codes for such students should be flexible, so they do not have to choose between male or female clothing.

School district spokesperson Ryan Bird, said that the guidelines were created as a result of a student’s recent human rights complaint. “A student was experiencing some difficulties with accessing programs and services specific to his gender identity,” he said.

Bird noted that many of the suggestions were used in practice before Wednesday’s announcement, the new rules simply codify them into set official policies. The guidelines are posted online on the district’s webpage as well as currently being distributed to all district administrative staff and other personnel.

This week’s actions by the school district comes as the battle heats up in Parliament over a private bill introduced by MP Randall Garrison from the New Democrat party which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to give groups based on gender identity and gender expression protection from discrimination.

Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders from Alberta, launched a petition against the transgender equality bill as its known, (Bill C-279) labeling the bill as the “Bathroom Bill.”

“Its goal is to give transgendered men access to women’s public washroom facilities,” Anders said on the petition site he has set up against the bill.

Andrea Houston, an activist and reporter with Toronto-based LGBT news magazine Xtra.ca, said Anders and other critics of Bill C-279 “want to make trans people out to be some kind of sexual predators and that is just as disrespectful as it is insulting.”

Helen Kennedy, executive director of the national (Canadian) LGBT rights group Egale, said not only Anders got his terminology wrong, but said he “obviously needs help.”

“It’s so flawed even in how it’s presented. Anders would do better to spend his time educating himself and talking to people in his constituency who are transgendered,” said Kennedy.

Garrison’s bill passed a second reading last June and is set to go to a standing committee in Parliament as early as mid-month. Houston said Anders needs to be held accountable for his comments about transgendered people as well.

“I don’t believe that he gets to play the stupid card,” she said. “He’s an elected official and he has a portfolio and has a vote. He’s held to the same standard as every other MP in the House.”

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16 more reader comments:

  1. Nice.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:55am
  2. I love the response to Anders. <3

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:57am
  3. About Time! <3

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:57am
  4. why not have bathroom for trans

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:57am
  5. One step forward, and one step back. WTF is this MP thinking with making bathrooms an issue again?

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 10:58am
  6. Why not have a bathroom for transgendered? Because… well fuck that. FTM should be able to use Male bathrooms and MTF should be able to use Female bathrooms as they wish.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 11:00am
  7. Too many people don’t have gender identity/ sexual identity realized. Who cares about a person of any gender next to me?

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 11:16am
  8. Separate is never equal, bathroom segregation is still segregation.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 11:24am
  9. Okay.. heres the thing w trans.. during transition you dont belong in niether bathroom if you ask me.. once transitioned fully you have a gender identify defined. No long trans but either male or female..
    When pants go down either a coot or a third leg.
    I can understand making a bathroom for the ones not fully transitioned.. but here is the catch..why should they be treated “special” when there not..
    I dont agree w the anti trans bathrm.. i dont think the students have an issue..i think its the school itself/ state its in..

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 11:28am
  10. @ Stacy : Special? Are you serious? Oh, by special, you must mean how transgendered individuals get the short end of the stick? Like how there is a much higher risk in being murdered, denied simple medical assistance, denied basic rights – moreso than being gay -, and treated like a third gender or third class citizen. Oh, yeah. REAL SPECIAL! :D

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 11:51am
  11. Oh, but hey, it’s not important unless it benefits you, huh? :3 LGB Nation.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 12:28pm
  12. Wal-Mart has a men’s room, a women’s room, and a family bathroom. So add a family bathroom and call it a private bathroom. That way trans can use either. Problem solved!

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 2:07pm
  13. @ Neil : Instead of something as SIMPLE as calling them by their gender and TREATING them the same, let’s put them in a family bathroom – a private one. Because the MTF isn’t a female, she is a family, right? No, she is a private. The FTM is the same. He is a family. Let’s call them family or privates instead. Transgendered individuals just want to be like everyone else. It’s everyone else who apparently has the problem and is pro-segregation.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 2:13pm
  14. Nissan, personally I’m fine with everyone sharing the same bathroom. The problem with that is the same issue that trans are dealing with, a lack of respect for one another. My point was, to make a private bathroom for whomever wishes to use it that do not feel comfortable using the generally accepted form of bathroom segregation.

    Posted on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 4:01pm
  15. @ Neil : You’re still missing the point. Are you homosexual or bisexual? I’m going to make an assumption that you’re a cis male. Are civil unions and domestic partnerships, okay? I mean, I’m pro same sex marriage all the way. (Go look at the difference in substance of the two) This is the same to me. When you meet in the middle, the issue is considered closed for the most part. And it’s hellish to reopen the issue. I don’t want to meet in the middle. I want the full rights, as everyone else. I shouldn’t have to pay +20k to use a restroom, because cis genders say it’s alright and then only consider me (Which most still won’t) “proper”. Citizens are citizens in their respective countries and shouldn’t be treated any less due to gender and or orientation discrimination. I refuse to meet in the middle, because I’m not ignorant of what settling for something less does. It starts with one small thing and it builds up.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 8:51am
  16. Nissen, I, for lack of better words, I am bi. when it comes to attraction, I do not recognize gender.
    As for marriage, I have the idea, and fully support doing away with all legal terms of “marriage” and call it a civil union. In a civil union, you have all the same rights as marriage, with no mention of gender. It would be party 1 and party 2. It proposes a compromise with the religious right. We give them the term “marriage” to use in their personal lives as they wish and it gives equality in unions.
    Also, not to be insulting to your intelligence, because I get the feeling that you’re intelligent but do not express your thoughts well. I say this because I an confused and do not understand your stand on the issue of bathrooms.
    Apparently, my stand is not clear either. On most issues, I support equal rights and treatment. On rare occasions do I support special accommodations for certain groups. Therefore, I support either unisex public bathrooms or a private bathroom for those who have issues with gender segregated bathrooms. NOT a special bathroom only for trans. This can be used by people with embarrassment issues, physical limitations, privacy issues, gender issues, or trans.
    I hope I clarified my stand. If not add me as a friend and we can email to discuss this more. My privacy setting prevent you from emailing me otherwise.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 10:16am