Toronto School Board wants transgendered guidelines

Oct 5, 2012 | News

TDSB hopes it will raise awareness about discrimination and harrassment. PHOTO BY MATTHEW SMITH

By Matthew Smith

The Toronto District School Board has issued guidelines for transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff that it hopes will raise awareness about discrimination and harassment.

The guidelines were issued  Oct. 3 as a result of a human rights complaint from a student.

“A student was experiencing some difficulties with accessing programs and services specific to his gender identity,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told The Toronto Star.

“The student was provided an accommodation at the school and as part of the settlement, the board developed these accommodation guidelines.”

Bill C-279, which was introduced in Parliament last fall, seeks to amend gender identity and gender expression “as prohibited grounds of discrimination.”

Humber College North Campus counsellor Andrew Tibbetts told Humber News the public needs to be aware of transgendered issues and transgendered people’s needs.

“There needs to be an awareness campaign, there needs to be some talk about trans issues to try and get everybody to be understanding about this,” said Tibbetts. “I know other institutions that have gender neutral washrooms like York. They essentially made single room washrooms essentially for disabled people and they put trans signs on the door as well.”

“They don’t want to have to be confronted with other people where they have to explain their gender and their right to be there,” said Tibbetts. “When people go to the washroom, they don’t want to have to make a speech or submit to a gender assessment inventory.”

Tibbetts said society should be educated and aware about transgender equality.

“Some people feel that they are a different gender than the biological body that they were born into and how difficult that is and how can we help those people feel better about themselves and feel more welcome in the world,” said Tibbetts.

Tibbetts calls a campaign by federal Conservative MP Rob Anders ridiculous and ignorant.

Anders launched a petition on his website against the bill earlier this week. Anders said on his website that the bill “is to give transgendered men access to women’s public washroom facilities.”

Tibbetts said Anders’ petition is an “ignorant and fear based reaction to a really good effort for Canada to step up in its support for trans people.”