Gender-neutral bathrooms proposed for Hamilton libraries
A report heading to the city's library board this week is proposing gender-neutral bathrooms for Hamilton's libraries, in the name of equal access rights transgender people.
The report, which is set to go before the board on Wednesday, says that wherever practical, individual and family washrooms would be turned into "universal washrooms" that aren't designated for a specific gender.
"Our staff training, procedures and signage will clearly establish that individuals have the right to self-identify their gender and have access to washrooms of their choice," the report reads.
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The report also references a "recent case in Hamilton" as highlighting the need to make sure that policies at the library are in sync with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
That "recent case" refers to when a transgender woman was denied access to the women's washroom at the MacNab Bus Terminal in the fall of 2014.
The woman filed a claim to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal a short time after the incident. As part of a settlement in the case from last year, the city agreed to incorporate principles set out in the Ontario's Human Rights Code into a written policy and then train employees on this policy.
In the report, the library says it is acting to ensure that people can enjoy its services "free from attempts by others to impose values, customs or beliefs."
"The Hamilton Public Library makes diversity and inclusion a priority in planning and decision making for staffing, collections, service development and facilities," the report reads. "In all libraries individuals have the right to self identify the washroom most appropriate for them."
The HPL operates 22 branches across the city.
The report will be brought forward for comment at the Feb. 15 library board meeting.