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Calgary LGBTQ community applauds move towards gender-neutral washrooms

Click to play video 'Gender-neutral washrooms under consideration in Calgary facilities' Gender-neutral washrooms under consideration in Calgary facilities
WATCH ABOVE: A plan by council to consider re-assigning certain washrooms in Calgary facilities is being embraced by many. It’s a simple and inexpensive first step that will be discussed next week. As Jill Croteau reports, some say the move will prove how progressive our city truly is.

Calgary city councillor Brian Pincott has put forward a notice of motion suggesting the relabelling of all single-stall washrooms, in an inclusive and progressive first step that many in the LGBTQ community are applauding.

If approved, it would affect washrooms in all city buildings and facilities. The pitch goes further to include gender-neutral washrooms in all future builds.

READ MORE: Calgary YMCA’s universal locker-room open to all genders

Mayor Naheed Nenshi supports the concept.

“I think councillor Pincott is not suggesting a massive retrofit but he is suggesting we look at gender-neutral washrooms for new buildings,” Nenshi said. “He’s also suggesting that for places where we already have private stalls, single-stall bathrooms and so on in the workplace and in public, why do they have genders on them if they’re single stalls anyway?
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“Really everyone ought to be able to use them and that seems very logical to me.”

Those with first-hand experience say choosing a washroom is an anxiety-filled decision.

“Am I going to be harassed in the female washroom because I don’t look like a woman?” said Sam Dyck, a transgender teenager living in Calgary. “Or am I going be harassed if I go into the men’s because I don’t look like a boy?”

READ MORE: Clock ticking down on deadline for Alberta school boards’ LGBTQ policies

He’s grateful the city is open to the concept of altering the signage.

“Not having to question which washroom you go into and not having anxiety…that would be a breeze.”

Before drafting the motion, councillor Pincott consulted with TESA, the Trans Equality Society of Alberta group. Amelia Marie Newbert speaks for the organization and from lived experience.

"It's absurd to gender single-stall washrooms,” Newbert said. “There’s no point.”
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Newbert said it’s an easy first step.

“Ultimately the move would be towards removing gender on all washrooms to make room and space for the non-binary and gender-diverse community who are forced to use washrooms that don’t align with their identities.”

The notice of motion is expected to be discussed next week at council’s final meeting before the summer break.

READ MORE: Catholic high school in Alberta switching to gender neutral washrooms