New Saskatchewan schools to include gender-neutral washrooms

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WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan's new joint-use schools, built through public-private partnership, are touted as 21st-century buildings for 21st-century education. As Blake Lough reports, that claim is reflected in the school's approach to bathrooms – Sep 27, 2016

The nine joint-use buildings housing Saskatchewan’s newest 18 schools will have gender-neutral bathrooms available for students.

The schools, touted as 21st century buildings for 21st century education, include the single-occupant bathrooms in every wing of the new institutions.

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“All five school divisions were in favour of this. This was done through public consultations with the school divisions and with community groups as well,” executive director of programs with the Ministry of Education, Kevin Gabel said.

The gender-neutral bathrooms will contain a toilet, a sink, and a door that locks. Signage on the doors of the washrooms are the responsibility of the school divisions.

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

Leo Keiser, director of UR Pride Centre at the University of Regina, applauded the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms in the new schools, but added that existing schools can’t be forgotten.

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“The fact that new build schools are offering this doesn’t take away from the idea that there’s still a lot of work to be done in getting other schools up to date with this, and making sure that every student in this province has access to a safer learning environment,” Keiser said.

Co-president of Campbell Collegiate’s Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA), Leah Tank, campaigned last year to convert a teacher’s private washroom to a gender-neutral facility open to all students.

She said the private washroom gives those questioning their identity the comfort of a safe environment.

“Especially for transgender students, when someone is questioning their gender identity it’s important to give them a place to feel safe,” Tank said.

“With social media it’s easy to film someone, put it on Snapchat, put it on Facebook, which is dangerous. It puts people in an unsafe environment.”

Construction of the province’s nine joint-use schools is set for completion before the start of the 2017 school year.

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