British Columbia

Greater Victoria school board passes gender identity policy

The Greater Victoria School District has passed a new policy that includes plans for gender-neutral bathrooms in each school and class lists that no longer identify student genders.

New approach aims to reduce gender segregation in schools

Gender-neutral washrooms in all Greater Victoria schools are part of a new gender identity and expression policy passed by the school board. (CBC)

The Greater Victoria School District has passed a new policy that includes plans for gender-neutral bathrooms in each school and class lists that no longer identify a student's gender.

School boards in other cities such as Vancouver have taken similar steps to better support transgender students, but the Victoria policy goes further, said board chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga.

"I think we kind of went beyond what the normal practice has been with a lot of the school districts to really try to really think of everything that we can that some of our students are going through."

The Victoria board's Gender Identity and Gender Expression policy aims to reduce or even eliminate the practice of gender segregation wherever possible, including in sports, Loring-Kuhanga said.

"Gender expression has to happen throughout our entire system, right? It's not just one area."

The policy will guide how to discuss gender and health in schools. Every school will also have at least one adult who will act as a resource for transgender, gender non-confirming and sexual minority students, the board said.

Board officials spent more than 18 months crafting the new policy and students were heavily involved in the process, Loring-Kuhanga said.

"They are living with it every day. They are bringing real examples to the table."

She said board staff have now been asked to find room in the budget to implement the new policy.