May 19, 2015 2:12 pm
Updated: May 19, 2015 9:32 pm

Catholic School Board defers contentious washroom decision to school

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WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Catholic School Board held a closed-door meeting today. It has been under fire for the way it handled a transgender student’s request to use the girls’ bathroom. Jessica Kent has the latest.

EDMONTON — A seven-year-old transgender student attending an Edmonton Catholic school will be able to use the girls’ washroom after all.

Trustee Patricia Grell voiced her opposition to the board’s decision to not allow the child to use the girls’ bathroom at her school.

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In a statement Tuesday – following a private meeting –  the board of trustees said the situation is “best addressed on an interim basis at the school level”.

“The board will continue to discuss policy with respect to this issue in consultation with the Archdiocese of Edmonton, medical specialists, parents and educational experts.”

The student’s mother said Tuesday the school has given her daughter permission to use the washroom of her choice. She said the school previously told her daughter to use a gender-neutral washroom.

“No parent wants to have the conversation with their child about encouraging them wanting to live and encouraging them that they’re not a disgrace to God,” the girl’s mother said, her voice breaking.

“So you go and you pray in your own sanctuary, and here comes Patricia Grell, the answer to my prayers, who stood up and said something.

“She is the reason why this change has happened.”

READ MORE: Local mother accuses Edmonton Catholic School Board of discrimination

The Catholic School Board also cancelled a special meeting to discuss the public nature of board business Tuesday afternoon.

The special meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m., had just one item on the agenda: “restructuring of board operations.”

However, the meeting was cancelled after the motion was withdrawn.

“The mover of the intended motion advised that she wished to withdraw that single item, and as a result, the board determined that it was not necessary to proceed with today’s meeting,” said Board Chair Debbie Engel.

“The agenda item was to discuss the public nature of board business and may be addressed at a future date.”

Heading into Tuesday morning’s private board meeting, Trustee Grell told Global News she is hoping she won’t face disciplinary action over speaking out against the board.

READ MORE: Rally held in support of Edmonton Catholic school trustee

Grell said she wasn’t certain what it was about, but hoped it had nothing to do with discipline for voicing her opposition to the board’s position.

“I’ve been hoping and praying that there are enough trustees who understand why I had to speak,” explained Grell.

“It really was my conscience. I had to follow my conscience on this one.”

Guidelines prohibit trustees from speaking out, Grell said. But she has argued the policy is “unconstitutional.”

“City councillors can speak out against the decisions of city council and MLAs can and MPs can. What’s with school trustees? Why can’t we speak out?”

Last week, Engel denied Grell would be asked to resign over her opposition of the board’s position on the matter.

“I guess I’m OK for now,” said Grell after Tuesday afternoon’s meeting was cancelled.

READ MORE: ‘I would never demand that’: Edmonton Catholic chair denies asking for trustee’s resignation

The board has insisted it’s meeting the changing needs of every student, balancing all their needs, and providing them with a safe environment to learn.

It also previously said, since the girl’s mother has filed a human rights complaint, it wouldn’t address its policy until a decision is made.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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