SD43 policy prevents transgender discrimination

School District 43 updated student code of conduct to reflect changes to human rights legislation

Student agenda books next year will remind students not to discriminate against transgender students but it's not known whether School District 43 will go as far as establishing gender-neutral washrooms.

The board of education on Tuesday unanimously approved an update to the student code of conduct, adding gender identity (how a person feels about their gender) and expression (how a person publicly presents their gender) to a list of things that must not be discriminated against. The list also includes race, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, and the terms were added to the code of conduct to mirror the Human Rights Code of British Columbia.

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The update was made on the eve of Pink Shirt Day when people across the district were taking part in activities to raise awareness about bullying.

Trustees also asked for a report on what is being done about providing gender-neutral washrooms. A call to the district about whether new middle and high schools under construction would have gender-neutral washrooms has not yet been returned.

Gender-neutral signs have been showing up on bathrooms around the world in acknowledgement and acceptance of transgender needs, including at the homeless shelter on Gordon Avenue in Coquitlam.

GENDER-NEUTRAL WASHROOMS IN SCHOOLS

Some Maple Ridge high schools have been posting signs making single-stall washrooms available to all, including one that reads "Whatever, Just Wash Your Hands." And in Vancouver, district policy includes deciding on a case-by-case basis on the use of washrooms and change rooms by transgender students.

As well, Vancouver School District's sexual orientation and gender identities policy notes that where possible, the board will strive to make available single-stall gender-neutral washrooms at all school locations and work sites.

A recent federal parliamentary committee report indicated that 8% of B.C.'s student population is LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) and last year a group for transgender youth and another for their parents or caregivers was started in the Tri-Cities.
The new student code of conduct will also be posted on the district's website at www.sd43.bc.ca.

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