Supporting Gender Diverse Students
System Standards - Background
The Human Rights Code of Ontario identified gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds in 2012.As such, no student should be denied educational opportunities on these grounds.
The Grand Erie District School Board is committed to providing a positive, safe, and inclusive learning environment which supports the personal dignity and self-esteem of gender-diverse students.
The Board recognizes that equity of opportunity and equity of access to a full range of programs, services, and resources are critical to the achievement of successful educational and social outcomes.
Definitions Relating to Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Gender Identity refers to an individual’s intrinsic sense of self and their sense of being female, male, a combination of both, or neither, regardless of their assigned gender at birth.
Gender Expression refers to the way an individual expresses their gender identity (e.g., in the way they dress, the length and style of their hair, the way they act or speak, the volume of their voice, and in their choice of whether or not to wear make-up).
Gender-Diverse refers to the situation where an individual does not identify with their gender at birth.
Accommodations refer to supports put into place in order that a person may benefit equally from a service.Gender identity and gender expression, as protected grounds under the Human Rights Code of Ontario, require school Boards to provide accommodations in those regards.
Note: Appendix A includes a more expansive list of terms related to gender identity.
Situations Requiring Accommodations
The following list of situations requiring accommodations reflects the current reality for gender-diverse students; the list is not intended to be exhaustive.As new situations arise, decision-making must reflect the Board’s obligation to make every reasonable attempt to provide accommodations with respect to gender identity and gender expression.
Washroom Access:All students have the right to safe use of a washroom that reflects the gender with which they identify, regardless of the gender assigned at birth.Currently, this could mean students requesting use of one, or both, gendered washrooms, or the use of a private single-stall washroom.Where possible, schools will provide an accessible all-gender single-stall washroom for use by any student who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.
Physical Education Classes: Gender-diverse students have the right to participate in gender-segregated physical education classes in accordance with the student’s gender identity.
Change Rooms:Students have the right to a safe change space that corresponds to their gender identity.In addition, students have the right to accommodations, if requested, that best fit their specific needs.Such requests may include:use of a private space within the public change space; a separate changing schedule; use of a private area in close proximity to the gymnasium; access to the change room corresponding to the student’s assigned gender at birth; completion of the Phys. Ed. requirement through independent study outside the gym class.
Note: It is not an acceptable accommodation if a student is denied the opportunity to participate in physical education classes.
Known Name and Pronouns:Gender-diverse students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns corresponding to their gender identity, regardless of whether the student has obtained a court-ordered name or gender change. (See Appendix E for an extensive list of pronouns related to gender identity.)
Grand Erie students who wish to use inclusive language in our schools and worksites should be supported to do so.For example, some gender-diverse students do not feel included in the “he or she” binary; an increasingly common and accepted strategy is to use “theythem” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, as this document often does.
Dress Codes:Gender-diverse students have the right to wear clothing that corresponds to their gender identity, or that is gender neutral.School dress codes should be flexible enough to accommodate all students.
Field Trips:Field trips that involve over-night accommodations should be treated with sensitivity and on a case-by-case basis.Gender-diverse students have the right to be accommodated in a manner that corresponds to their gender identity and considers safety; allowing for single room accommodations if necessary.
Confidentiality.If, and when, gender-diverse students decide to disclose their gender identity, principals will support them by whatever means necessary, especially with respect to treatment by others.
Note:While parents have the rights and responsibilities for most educational decisions related to their children, in some cases parents might be unaware of their child’s gender identity at school; in these cases, staff will honour students’ wishes with respect to confidentiality.
Report Cards/IEPs: Gender-diverse students have the right to request name and gender changes on report cards/IEPs without proof of change of birth certificate.
Ontario Student Records:Gender-diverse students have the right to request name and gender changes on Ontario Student Records that reflect their gender identity. The request will be made in writing to the principal, and will remain in the OSR in a sealed envelope.
All contents of the OSR containing references to the student’s previous name and gender designation will be kept in a sealed envelope in the OSR.It may be accessed by the principal in order to address issues that arise.