Gender Neutral Washrooms at BINM
Shawn Peters, Naturopathic Medical Student
On Jan 19, 2016 a gender neutral washroom was opened on the second floor of Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. After discussions last year and a survey conducted of the students, Boucher opened the gender neutral washroom. This decision came after the realization that there was a need to accommodate the high number of female students as well as take a stance on gender inclusion. In 2014, the Vancouver area saw the Vancouver School Board and Vancouver municipality pass motions for all schools and public buildings to include at least one genderless washroom and for transgendered students to have access to all washrooms. This policy doesn’t apply to Boucher directly and it is a positive step to see the school take a stance on gender inclusion within their walls, for current and future students.
I have wondered about the use of symbols on gender neutral washroom signage, both at Boucher and other places. Similar to the signage here at Boucher, a typical sign may include a symbol of a man, a woman, a person in a wheelchair. It is an important consideration, particularly bearing in mind the fluidity of gender that a gender-neutral washroom presupposes. Again, back in 2014, there was talk at the Vancouver Park Board as to what the signs in Vancouver parks should look like, particularly about alternatives. Perhaps a good alternative would be to keep the text “gender neutral washroom” and simply have a symbol of a toilet. In the final report of recommendations to the Vancouver Park Board, it was recommended to include symbols centered on function, instead of gender.
With an interest in nutrition, I both attended and instructed at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Calgary. I practised natural nutrition and worked in health food stores for the better part of a decade before I decided to actively pursue naturopathic medicine. The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine was a natural choice for me and I am loving it. I am deeply passionate about environmental stewardship, intentional communities, and philosophy, including animal rights.
- CBC News. What Should gender-neutral washroom signs look like? CBC News. March 28, 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/what-should-gender-neutral-washroom-signs-look-like-1.2589618. Accessed January 24, 2016.
- Posadzki, A. Vancouver School Board approves transgendered students policy. The Globe and Mail. June 17, 2014. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-school-board-allows-transgendered-students-to-use-washroom-of-their-choice/article19192920/. Accessed January 24, 2016.
- Scalza, R. VANCOUVER INTRODUCING GENDER-NEUTRAL WASHROOMS IN PARKS. Inside Vancouver. April 8, 2014. http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2014/04/08/vancouver-introducing-gender-neutral-washrooms-in-parks/. Accessed January 24, 2016.
- Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Trans* and Gender Variant Inclusion Working Group – Final Report (attachment). http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/REPORT-TGVIWorkingGroupReport-2014-04-28.pdf. Published April 17, 2014. Accessed January 24, 2016.