According to the Canadian Press; for the first time, schools under the Toronto District School Board have to accommodate students according to their own stated gender preference, rather than their birth sex.
After a human rights complaint to the board by a transgender student who felt excluded from certain school programs, the new guidelines were put in place so that no one else feels alienated at school simply because of their gender.
The guidelines explain how Toronto schools must now treat students who don’t identify with traditional gender identities, and also explain that students don’t have to justify their choice with official documentation anymore, such as a doctor’s note. Self-identification is all that’s needed to measure gender.
This new equity policy allows the students to decide how they should be addressed and which washroom they want to use, rather than which one fits in with their birth sex. Moreover, the guidelines encourage schools to have at least one unisex stall available.
An emphasis was placed on confidentiality—the schools must keep students’ gender choices confidential from their parents or guardians. School staff is also recommended to speak to the students at the beginning of the year so they can decide on which names and pronouns should be used when corresponding with the parents. The equity policy didn't specify if the rules apply only to children over a certain age.
The significant step forward comes just months after the province of Ontario added the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity” into the Human Rights Code to protect transgendered persons and prevent discrimination for them when looking for employment or housing. With this historic step, Ontario is the first major North American jurisdiction to provide human rights protection to transgendered persons. Hopefully, other Canadian provinces and American states will soon follow. It’s about time, really.