The Toronto District School Board has introduced a new set of guidelines that spell out what kind of accommodation the board must offer to “transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff.”
The policy says schools must keep a student’s gender non-conformity or transgender status confidential and should never disclose it to a parent or guardian without consent from the student.
“It is strongly suggested that staff privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s),” the policy says.
It also says students and staff have the right to use a washroom that “best conforms to their gender identity” without having to “prove” their gender. Schools must also offer an “accessible all-gender single stall washroom” for any employee or student who needs “increased privacy.”
The guidelines were created as a result of a student’s recent human rights complaint, Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said.
“A student was experiencing some difficulties with accessing programs and services specific to his gender identity. The student was provided an accommodation at the school and as part of the settlement … the board developed these accommodation guidelines,” Bird said.
A number of the guidelines were used on a case-by-case basis before, but Bird said this is the first time they’ve been officially spelled out in school board policy.
The guidelines, along with a fact sheet of common questions and answers, have been posted on the school board’s website. Bird said the guidelines are now being distributed to staff to use as a resource when requests for accommodation come up.
The guidelines also deal with use of pronouns when addressing transgender students or staff and says dress codes for students should be flexible, so students don’t have to choose between male or female clothing.