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Ontario’s top court to get unisex change room following petition

The exterior of Osgoode Hall in Toronto. The buildings house the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario.
The exterior of Osgoode Hall in Toronto. The buildings house the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

TORONTO – The Law Society of Ontario says it will create a unisex space where barristers appearing before the province’s top court can change into their robes and network.

The regulator says it will transform what is now the men’s robing room at the Osgoode Hall courthouse in Toronto into a gender-neutral facility, which will require modifications to ensure personal privacy in the washrooms.

The law society says it is working out the details as well as the timeline of the project as it works to ensure the facilities are “inclusive and welcoming.”

READ MORE: Ontario court orders new trial for man convicted of sexually assaulting friend after wedding

The announcement comes after a Toronto lawyer launched a petition to scrap a small change room reserved for so-called “lady barristers” in favour of a unisex space.

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The online petition created by Breanna Needham highlighted the discrepancy between the women’s space, which holds 12 lockers, and the men’s, which has close to 70.

Needham said the robing rooms also serve as spaces where lawyers discuss their work and make connections, and women should not be excluded from those potentially career-advancing experiences.