Group to examine gender neutral washrooms and policy in Nanaimo school district

The Nanaimo school district continues to give consideration to gender neutral washrooms in its schools.

The Nanaimo school district will consider adding gender-neutral washrooms in its schools.

The school district board approved a motion at its meeting last week that will see a gender neutral washroom working group established. The group will examine a Sept. 18 district staff report on the topic and make recommendations to the school board’s business committee in January.

The report said gender neutral washrooms “may be feasible” as part of new construction or renovation projects. Dot Neary, school trustee and business committee chairwoman, said the issue is more complex than first thought. A gender neutral policy needs to be adopted, something the district is looking toward doing as well, she said.

“In order to adapt existing facilities, if you’ve got new construction, I think it’s a bit more feasible to include gender neutral [washrooms] in those facilities. But in existing facilities, I think there are all kinds of issues, that at first glance, have not necessarily been considered,” Neary said, adding the working group will look at the gender-neutral issue as a whole with recommendations on policy and how to implement it.

District staff will assemble the group but Neary said it should include a number of different people.

“I don’t think we really discussed it in depth but it should include a trustee, an assistant superintendent and there will be some school principals there, and facilities department representation ,and I would imagine parents and maybe even students,” she said.

School board chair Jamie Brennan said the the working group will determine the pace in which gender-neutral washrooms can be provided. He said there is a specific project in the works in the district.

“The re-design of the Cedar secondary school, that project will ensure that there are gender-neutral washrooms in the school when it’s repurposed as an elementary school, that’s a particular project,” said Brennan.