The Toronto District School Board has developed accommodation guidelines for transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff. These guidelines set out the TDSB’s best practices related to accommodation based on gender identity and gender expression. They have been designed to raise awareness and help protect against discrimination and harassment.
View the guidelines.
Q: Why do we need accommodation guidelines?
A: Ontario Human Rights Code provides for equal rights and opportunities and freedom from discrimination for all persons. People cannot be discriminated against or harassed because of their gender identity or expression. These guidelines explain TDSB’s best practices related to accommodation based on gender identity and gender expression. They have been designed to raise awareness and help protect against discrimination and harassment.
Q: How does someone seek an accommodation?
A: A student or staff member is encouraged to make an accommodation request in writing or speak directly to their Principal or manager. Each request will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Each accommodation will involve collaboration between the school, the student or staff, their family, and their community to jointly explore accommodation solutions.
Q: What should be taken into consideration when dealing with an accommodation request?
A: These guidelines have been designed to raise awareness and help protect against discrimination and harassment. The TDSB will take reasonable steps to provide accommodation to staff or students who state that the Board’s operations or requirements interfere with their right to free gender expression and/ or gender identity. Each accommodation will involve the collaboration between the school, the student, their family, and their community to jointly explore accommodation solutions.
Q: Are all requests accommodated in the same way?
A: No, all requests are treated on a case by case basis. Board and school staff must consider each student’s needs and concerns separately. An accommodation that works for one student or staff member cannot simply be assumed to work for another.
Q: Does this mean that students will be able to use a washroom of their choice without accommodation approval?
A: A student or staff member is encouraged to make an accommodation request in writing or speak directly to their Principal. The TDSB will work with the student or staff member to prepare for their accommodation.
All staff and students have a right to safe restroom facilities and the right to use a washroom that best corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Where possible, schools will also provide an easily accessible all-gender single stall washroom for use by any student or staff member who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.
Q: Will students be able to use a washroom that does not correspond to their assigned sex at birth?
A: In some cases students or staff members will be able to use the washroom that corresponds with their gender identity. However, use of an all-gender single stall washroom will be an option if one is available.
Q: How are students accommodated for sports activities, gym classes and change rooms?
A: School staff must ensure students can exercise their right to participate in gender segregated sports and physical education class activities in accordance with each student’s gender identity. Students have the right to a safe change-room that corresponds to their gender identity. Transgender or gender non-conforming students have the right to an accommodation that best meets the individual student’s particular needs.
Such accommodations can include:
- use of a private area within the public area (a bathroom stall with a door; an area separated by a curtain; a P.E. instructor’s office in the change-room);
- a separate changing schedule in the private area (either utilizing the change room before or after the other students);
- use of a nearby private area (a nearby washroom; a nurse’s office);
- access to the change room corresponding to the student’s assigned sex at birth, or
- satisfaction of the P.E. requirement by independent study outside of gym class.
The TDSB strives to maintain a culture that upholds the dignity, worth and safety of all students, staff and members of our school communities. As such, staff from the Gender-Based Violence Prevention office put together a video to highlight best practices in implementing an all-gender washroom in all schools, elementary and secondary. This video features students and staff at City View Alternative School and their efforts in establishing an all-gender washroom in their school as a means of removing barriers for gender non-conforming staff and students.
Interviews with students, teachers, principals, social workers, and a superintendent address the importance of providing safe and accepting spaces in schools – including access to washrooms that reflect gender diversity – as well as guidelines for effective implementation.