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What should gender-neutral washroom signs look like?

The Vancouver Park Board is seeking public input on its plans to install gender-neutral washrooms and the signage that will advertise them.

Vancouver's Park Board debates signage for new gender-neutral washrooms

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      The Vancouver Park Board is seeking public input on its plans to install gender-neutral washrooms and the signage that will advertise them.

      A draft report released on Thursday notes that future washroom design will likely have to change. It also recommends retro-fitting current washrooms to create more space to accommodate different genders while maintaining privacy.

      Two of the options from the Vancouver Park Board draft report on gender-neutral washrooms include an upside-down rainbow triangle and an all-inclusive symbol in order to make transgender people feel welcome. (Vancouver Park Board)

      The report says the change rooms at the Killarney and Hillcrest aquatic centres are good examples of what this type of new design might look like.

      Last September, Vancouver City Council passed amendments to the city's building code and bylaws to permit gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings.

      The park board says it eventually plans to expand gender-neutrality to change rooms as well as washrooms in all its recreational facilities.

      it is considering a variety of signage including an upside-down rainbow triangle, to show transgender persons they are welcome,  gender-neutral signage that shows just toilets, or male and female silhouettes with wording that also welcomes transgender men and women.

      Human rights issue

      For some transgender people, going to a public washroom can create anxiety and fear. Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke says it's a human rights issue.

      A gender neutral washroom sign installed last year at the University of Alberta. The Vancouver park board is currently debating some colourful alternatives to signs like this one. (CBC)

      "It's based on a number of complaints we've had around harassment and abuse, both physical and verbal, in washrooms."

      Gender-neutral washrooms have already been, or are about to be installed, in several public jurisdictions in PEI, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Alberta.

      People will have an opportunity to comment on the draft report next Tuesday night at the Coal Harbour Community Centre and online. 

      The final report goes before the Park Board, Apr. 28.

      With files from the CBC's Meera Bains


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