Many kids in Ottawa probably breathed a collective sigh of relief recently.
Gender-neutral bathrooms are coming to several schools across the city, as part of an effort to help protect kids who are still questioning their gender identity. Known as “universal bathrooms,” the Ottawa Carleton District School Board is only applying the changes to single-unit facilities. And they will only be in schools where parents of children who may be transitioning from one gender to another have brought up the issue with officials.
“We’re proud of it. It’s work that can be done, that needs to be done and we are trying to keep pace with our communities,” Mike Carson, the board’s superintendent of facilities, says in the video above.
Some parents and children who are questioning their gender identity have welcomed the news. Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, who was born a boy but identifies as a girl, feels far more comfortable in a girl’s bathroom, but previously felt that he was pushed to go in the one for boys.
“I look like a girl so people think I am a girl. If I go into (the) boys’ washroom, boys will think ‘Why is there a girl in this bathroom?’ and they might bully me,” she says in the video above.
Not all parents are thrilled though. Two families have actually pulled their kids from public school after learning about the move. That doesn’t seem to be stopping the school board, however, which said it will also be turning its attention to other facilities, like change rooms, to see how they could be converted into accessible spaces for transgender children.
After all, what’s wrong with making kids feel more safe and comfortable?