Toronto School Doing ‘Social Experiment on Our Kids’ With All Gender-Neutral Washrooms, Says Parent

Toronto School Doing ‘Social Experiment on Our Kids’ With All Gender-Neutral Washrooms, Says Parent
A file photo of a gender neutral washroom sign. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
Tara MacIsaac

A group of parents whose children attend Toronto’s Jean Lumb elementary school say the school board’s insistence on maintaining all gender-neutral washrooms is “anti-feminist and discriminatory.”

That description was included in the subject line of a letter several parents signed and sent to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) on June 21. The parents are calling for a review of any policies preventing the school from designating at least one set of washrooms for boys and girls separately.

Some of the problems parents have complained of include a boy exposing himself to a Grade 1 girl, boys kicking the doors in on girls, girls feeling uncomfortable performing their menstrual hygiene, and Muslim girls unable to remove their hijab to wash before prayer.

The letter follows a petition signed by 126 parents calling for some of the washrooms to be designated by gender. The parents were unsatisfied with the board’s response to the petition.

TDSB said it would install new, longer doors on the stalls to prevent students from peeking under, as was happening.

But new doors don’t solve all the problems, a father speaking on behalf of the group told The Epoch Times.

The father wished to use the pseudonym Yazlyn, which means freedom in Arabic. Because the universal washrooms have been touted as progressive and inclusive, he is worried about being called transphobic and targeted if his name is published.

“It’s Pride Month and people will just label you. As soon as someone wants to shut you down, they will just label you,” he said. “I don’t want to lose my job over this.”

Yazlyn said he’s not against universal washrooms. He’s asking for there to also be a separate space for girls.

“We are not even asking for a design change. We are just saying stick a label—boys, girls,” he said. “We are happy with one [set of gendered washrooms] ... that’s the least we are expecting.”

That would still leave some universal multi-stall washrooms in the school.

“No one is opposed to all-gender washrooms being provided as an option along with separate boys and girls washroom options,” the parents’ letter states. “Respect all genders and all religions. Provide a choice of washrooms so children of all genders and all religions can go to the washroom of their choice.”

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told The Epoch Times via email on June 23 that he has no further comment to provide beyond the board’s earlier statement, with which the parents are dissatisfied.

That statement, sent to The Epoch Times via email on June 19, included the TDSB’s plan to install new doors on the stalls. It also noted that Jean Lumb is unique in having all gender-neutral washrooms because when the board built the school (it opened 2020) it decided to try something new.
“It is rare that TDSB builds new schools given its existing property, and the construction of Jean Lumb PS provided an opportunity to create a more inclusive environment for students,” the statement said.

‘They Are Afraid’

Yazlyn likens this approach to a “social experiment.”

“Why are they doing a social experiment on our kids?”

The TDSB said “the school continues to provide access to single-user standalone washrooms for any student who wishes to use them, and encourages all students to use the washroom where they are most comfortable.”

But Yazlyn said the single-user standalone washrooms are labelled for “staff.”

“If someone wants to use that, they can make an arrangement; it’s not like anyone can go,” he said. “But a lot of parents don’t talk to the management. They are afraid. They just talk to us.”

If parents and students have to make a special arrangement, he said, “it’s like all the teachers know, OK, so this kid is allowed in the staff washroom. So you are essentially singling people out for no reason.”

Yazlyn said he understands the desire to have some universal washrooms for inclusivity, but he doesn’t understand why the board wants only universal washrooms at the school.

“They have never provided a single reason, not even a single reason, why the school should have exclusively universal washrooms,” he said. “If someone wants exclusively universal, give us a solid reason why you want that. What’s the harm in getting gendered washrooms along with accessibility and universal?”

He forwarded to The Epoch Times the many email communications he and other parents have had with officials at the school and the board.

Many of their replies repeated the same phrase verbatim: “Gender neutral washrooms in schools promote inclusivity, reduce bullying and discrimination based on gender, provide a safe and private space for all students, and help to create a more accepting and respectful school environment.”

Yazlyn’s daughter will go into Grade 1 next year. The kindergarten classrooms have their own private washrooms, but he doesn’t want her in the same washrooms as boys next year.

Even though she’s in kindergarten she already had an incident with a boy peeking in at her while using the stall washrooms elsewhere in the school, Yazlyn said.

“My girl could not identify [the boy] because she could not see the face. But some girls could see the face, so you can see how deep the boys are going inside to see the girls. This is crazy.”