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Nearly 600 Toronto schools introduce trans equality

Canadian schools will now ensure transgender equality for students and staff in new Toronto District School Board guidelines
Toronto District School Board introduces transgender equality for staff and students in its 591 schools.

The Toronto District School Board has introduced transgender equality guidelines into nearly 600 schools.

Local news site The Star says the policy states schools must keep a student’s gender non-conformity or transgender status confidential and should never disclose it to a parent or guardian without consent from the student.

According to TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird, the guidelines were created as a result of a student’s recent human rights complaint.

‘A student was experiencing some difficulties with accessing programs and services specific to his gender identity,’ he said.

The policy strongly suggests staff privately ask trans or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in school, and in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the parents.

Guidelines also state dress codes for such students should be flexible, so they do not have to choose between male or female clothing.

Bird says while many of the suggestions were in place anyway, official guidelines are now being distributed to all staff, and will also be posted on the school board’s website.

The announcement comes as New Democrat Randall Garrison wishes to introduce a bill which amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to stop discrimination based on gender identity.

However some, like Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders, have launched a petition against the trans equality bill.

Anders, the author of the petition, said the law’s true goal is to ‘give transgendered men access to women’s public washroom facilities.’

Helen Kennedy, executive director of LGBT rights group Egale, said not only Anders got his terminology wrong, but says he ‘obviously needs help’.

She said: ‘It’s so flawed even in how it’s presented. Anders would do better to spend his time educating himself and talking to people in his constituency who are transgendered.’

The bill passed a second reading last June and is set to go to a standing committee soon.

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